Women’s group launches on UF Health Jacksonville campus

Published: February 24, 2014 By: Jesef Williams
Shahla Masood, M.D.

Judella Haddad-Lacle, MD, believes many benefits will come as a result of membership in the UF Association of Professional Women in Jacksonville.

Haddad-Lacle, an assistant professor of family medicine, was one of several UF Health providers on hand for the association’s inaugural reception in January. The group’s intent is to give female providers, faculty, staff, residents and fellows an outlet to meet one another, network and receive support.

About two years ago, pathology professor and chair Shahla Masood, MD, began gauging interest among colleagues about the formation of a women’s organization on the UF Health Jacksonville campus. She said women have unique challenges when trying to balance personal and professional lives, and such an organization would help them better navigate some of the obstacles. Masood adds that the women’s association will also provide an arena for professional development and collaboration regarding medical research and teaching initiatives.

University of Florida approved the group in November 2013, following a series of focus group sessions to discuss the association’s purpose and scope.

The inaugural reception was held inside the Learning Resource Center on the UF Health Jacksonville campus. The informal mixer featured refreshments and remarks from Masood and Daniel Wilson, MD, PhD, dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.

“This is a wonderful organization – one that’s been long overdue. I applaud everyone who’s been involved,” said Wilson, who received the “honorary woman” distinction from the group because of his support.  

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Masood said about establishing the women’s association. “Together, we’re going to form a good group of individuals who want to communicate and help each other grow and succeed.”

Haddad-Lacle, who serves as medical director of UF Health Community and Family Medicine – Jacksonville, is looking forward to the opportunities in collaborative research that may result. Meanwhile, cytopathology fellow Hani Hojjati, MD, believes the interactions will lead to a stronger health care network.

“It’s a great thing,” Hojjati said. “We all need to get to know each other. It creates a stronger bond within the medical community when we know each other on a personal level.”

Masood said about 150 women have expressed interest in joining the association. Members are now looking to outline goals and plan events such as special symposiums.

For more information about the UF Association of Professional Women in Jacksonville, email Masood at shahla.masood@jax.ufl.edu.

Shahla Masood, M.D.

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