As an attendee herself, Erin Auer speaks to the positive impact of this intimate space. “The vulnerability, honesty, and openness that’s shared across the board is a highlight for me,” she says. “It’s the speakers and sessions, but it’s also women talking one-on-one during social events. People are able to let their guard down. They don’t feel like they have to worry they’ll be perceived as overly emotional or unprofessional.” Part of what helps set this tone of vulnerability and openness are the speakers. “We had quite a few speakers who knocked it out of the park, and they did that by telling very vulnerable and personal stories,” explains Dr. Skinner. “The vulnerability led to insights about how to move forward. There were a lot of connections made during those sessions, and I know that was a highlight for attendees.” One such speaker is Dr. Lulu, whose aim is to teach women how they can use their personal stories to connect with others.
While the retreat can be an informative, healing, and even cathartic space for many, Dr. Skinner is also thinking about integration. How can women take what they’ve learned home with them and actually improve their daily lives? “Because women tend to put themselves last, it’s even harder to sustain the changes you might want to make following an event like this once you return home,” Skinner says. “If I could remind our attendees of one thing it would be that they can give themselves permission—that they don’t have to follow some prescribed ideal that they think has been set for them, that it’s okay to take a pause or change their path.” She continues, “the advice I try to follow that a mentor gave me is to every year do more of what I love and less of what I don’t. So give yourself permission to aim toward that goal and aim for more balance.”
Another avenue towards integration is to stay engaged in Women in Pediatrics throughout the year and consider speaking or hosting a session in 2024. “We provide opportunities for women to nominate themselves or their colleagues to be speakers or faculty at the event,” Dr. Skinner says. “I encourage all of our attendees to look into that. We’re also sponsoring a blog post once a month that’s being written by our community members. Writing can help people reconnect to the energy they felt during the in-person event.”
As for Taveras and Auer, they are both grateful for the opportunity to have attended the Women in Pediatrics Retreat. “It doesn’t hurt that it’s in Puerto Rico in the winter,” Taveras laughs. “And it’s such an energizing and inspiring event. I came back full of positivity, ideas, and new drive to get to work.”