From left: Sarah L., Isabella L., Lauren B., Jossalyn Emslie, Sarah B., Deijah B., Chloe D. (Not pictured: Meghan X. '19, from Diamond Bar High School.)
The genesis of Internist Jossalyn Turner Emslie’s ’83 internship program was simple enough: girls in her daughter’s Girl Scout troop asked if they could shadow Emslie and word spread on the Westridge campus after the program’s first year. But Emslie, passionate about female mentorship, especially in medicine, reached far past a shadowing program to develop an intense, once-in-a-lifetime experience for Westridge students (and a few other girls as well).
“High school girls don’t know enough yet to get a lot out of shadowing a doctor,” said Emslie. So, she created a formal (and jam-packed) curriculum to help students see what it looks like to work in different specialties or be a researcher, understand what it takes to get into and through medical school, consider the challenges unique to women in the field, and learn how to access mentors and other educational and professional opportunities.
“I only do this for girls and I think this is the fault of Westridge!” said Emslie, whose daughters Caitlin ’12 and Maddie ’16, are also alumnae. She believes in Westridge because it is “a place where girls are first-class citizens in all they do and where they learn to be themselves without societal gender assumptions.” She has a similar belief in the power of female mentorship. “There is a long history of male mentorship—they call it the old boys’ network, and men and boys expect mentor relationships. But this isn’t the norm for women…I think it is important for women to mentor girls and for girls to have a place to experience this with only girls.”
In the field of medicine, she said, women perform differently and are viewed differently by patients. Because of that, she believes it is important to have women in the caring professions. Yet women are still underrepresented in medicine, especially in top positions, and are paid less—a gap that is increasing, unlike the overall gender wage gap.
“I love what I do, and I want to inspire the girls to continue to follow their interest in medicine,” said Emslie. “I tell them ’each individual’s body is the most critical thing to them…in medicine, people bring that (body) to you and every day, after seeing you, someone has less fear, less pain, or lives longer. Every day. And on top of that, you get a pay check.’”
"I am forever grateful to Dr. Emslie for welcoming us into her world with such open arms and giving us the opportunity to network, make new doctor contacts, and witness all the beautiful things about medicine."
“Shadowing Dr. Emslie and meeting a plethora of people in a variety of healthcare professions was such a unique opportunity in that it allowed us to experience and witness so many different areas of medicine” said Lauren B. ’19. “I don’t think I would have discovered my desire to be an OB-GYN if it weren’t for this experience, because I wouldn’t have seen it first hand as a high school student still in the midst of becoming who I am. My biggest takeaway from this experience was discovering more about myself and about what I want for my future career in medicine.”
Of note—this story contains one other Westridge connection! Emslie works with Westridge parent Hani Sami, M.D. (Nathalie ’12) in the Sierra Madre medical group he founded.
More about the program...
- Conduct research into how to become a doctor, how to get into medical school, and what happens after med school graduation
- See patients/work with doctors and a nurse practitioner in: family medicine; radiology; OB-GYN (Westridge parent Della Fong, M.D.); gynecology; cardiology; and clinical research
- Meet with: a hospital chief medical officer, a medical school clinical faculty member, a medical school student (Nathalie Sami ’12, now at USC), a psychologist, a gastroenterologist, an academic clinical researcher (M.D./Ph.D.), and clinical medical assistants
- Tour a hospital and a medical school
- Attend a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows program research presentation day at Caltech
- Create/present an individual patient presentation based on notes taken during a patient meeting and additional research
- Learn to measure blood pressure and use simple diagnostic instruments on each other
This story was originally published in the Winter 2019 edition of Surgere Magazine.