Celebrating Women in Medicine
Part IV: Jennifer T. Shalz, MD
September is Women in Medicine Month—a time to honor and highlight the work and accomplishments of women within the healthcare industry.
To celebrate, we’re recognizing a few of the amazing women Carium has the pleasure of working with and telling their stories.
In part four of this series, we're highlighting Jennifer T. Shalz, MD from St. Luke's Health System.
Jennifer T. Shalz, MD
Dr. Jennifer T. Shalz chose a career in medicine because she loved human biology and psychology and wanted to serve others and improve their lives. She currently works at St. Luke’s Health System as the medical director of a system-wide lifestyle medicine department with administrative, teaching, and clinical duties.
She graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1994. As a United States Air Force Health Professions Scholarship recipient, she completed her internal medicine internship and residency at David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, became an active duty internist until 2000, and then separated from the USAF as a major.
She subsequently worked as an internist and teaching attending at three VA medical centers. In 2008, Dr. Shalz transitioned to a role providing supportive oncology care and became a hospice medical director.
In 2011, she went to St. Luke's Health System as the medical director of their first cardiac rehab program. She helped grow the program to include a pulmonary rehab, supervised exercise for peripheral arterial disease, and a care transitions program that provided nurse and social worker care management at home for patients with high needs.
Dr. Shalz became certified in Lifestyle Medicine through the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine in 2017. She’s now working on integrating lifestyle as medicine into routine care and clinical workflows for specific conditions.
Are there any obstacles you had to overcome as a woman in healthcare? In your opinion, what can we do better to support gender equity in healthcare?
I had the most difficulty when my children were babies/toddlers. One place I worked while I was still breastfeeding my younger daughter required us to work overnight to cover ED duties that were previously provided by residents. We also had to work at the clinic the next day unless we took a day of vacation.
That same institution did not allow any teaching attending to work in a part-time position or do a job share. I think offering onsite child care and being open to alternative practice patterns would be helpful, especially opportunities for flexible hours where it can be done.
Tell us a secret — what is something you love about working in healthcare that most people don’t know?
I love giving people the tools to feel empowered to transform their own health and then sit back and watch them thrive.
What advice would you give to other women beginning their journey into healthcare?
It's a wonderful, fulfilling profession but look for flexible practice patterns and a practice that supports women, mothers, and family life with vacation policies, on-site or nearby childcare services, and supportive colleagues who value physician morale and excellent patient care, not just productivity. That being said, consider contracts with value-based care over fee-for-service, especially for primary care.
What advice did you get when you began your career that you wish you hadn’t ignored?
Don't go part-time as a woman physician because you do the full-time job, which is expected even if you are "part-time" in fewer hours for much less pay.
In your opinion, what could be done better to attract more women into careers within healthcare?
Allow autonomy and creativity within the job through value-based care models focusing on outcomes, not productivity. Provide more leadership opportunities with flexible contracts that allow job shares. Not punishing part-time physicians financially or otherwise. Promoting a culture that values family and work-life balance for the physicians.
What are your go-to resources, books, podcasts, or blogs for career advice?
I've gotten much from my American College of Lifestyle Medicine network.
How are you using Carium’s platform to innovate within your organization?
By integrating lifestyle medicine into clinical workflows across the health system. It’s essentially an “easy button” for referring providers and helping potential new patients learn about what we offer and providing disease self-management education so they understand why they were referred to the program.
We use Carium to support current patients by navigating them through our program and helping them understand our services. We provide education and health coaching, track data, and communicate with them post-program. We also use it to help patients sustain their changes through messaging, tracking, and support.
This week we've already celebrated two other amazing women in Medicine — get to know:
Shannon Crotwell, RN BSN CCRN | Atrium Health
Ari Permutt, RN | Santa Rosa Community Health System
Amber Kelly, RD | Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist