Education at OHSU

Women's Leadership Development Program

Group photo featuring 22 women in 2 rows, 10 on the bottom and 12 standing
WLDP 2022-23 CLASS at their opening gathering in SE Portland. This year’s cohort includes MD students, PA students, and DNP students.

The Women’s Leadership Development Program (WLDP) was founded in 2015 by Dr. Megan Furnari with a group of inspired women medical students committed to improving the healthcare journey for women trainees. In 2021, the WLDP moved programming to the Provost’s Office at OHSU and expanded to include more women healthcare learners including the PA and DNP Program. Moving forward, WLDP will continue to cultivate an inter-professional space for women’s leadership development for learners.

WLDP supports a much-needed strategy for women in medicine to speak their truth, show up as leaders, support each other and affirm the value of personal and collective narrative.

WLDP women participants are taking risks, being elected to student council positions, leading student organizations, receiving awards, and getting scholarships. WLDP is a critical lift‑off point for OHSU women student leaders to take risks, achieve successes, and see their impact from early on in their medical training.


To cultivate a community of healthcare leaders identifying as women to: 

-Advance collaborative relationships

-Build professional skills

-Create a culture of advocacy


Promote gender equity in medicine to create opportunities for women to lead formally and informally in healthcare.






MD WLDP Program

Since the creation of WLDP in 2015, greater than 100 incredible women medical student scholars and alumni have participated in the WLDP program. Some are currently in medical school and many others are in residency.

First-year WLDP women participate in approximately 10 sessions led by invited OHSU faculty and expert speakers on topics that emphasize our core pillars: leadership, community, mentorship and wellness.

Second-year WLDP women mentor and facilitate the program for new members if they desire to continue in the curriculum.

Third- and fourth-year women have opportunities to join in large community events, mentor younger women in the program, teach content, and attend conferences.

PA WLDP Program

Launching in 2021, the PA WLDP will cultivate a unique approach to fit the needs of women leaders in PA School, while also synergizing with MD women leaders regularly to grow in an understanding of how they can work together and collectively grow as leaders together. We are expanding the current content to include the experience of PA women learners.

Nursing WLDP Program

Currently in the early stages, Kristen Ash (DNP Candidate) is part of the current cohort for WLDP in order to adapt and build out a future WLDP iteration for nursing students in 2022.

The WLDP leadership team consists of faculty and senior students.

WLDP consists of monthly interactive lectures taught by expert leaders from the OHSU faculty paired with WLPD student leaders. The curriculum focuses on dynamic conversations empowering trainees to become current and future leaders in healthcare. There are four core areas:

  • Gender Equity & Anti-racism
  • Leadership skill development
  • Community building & Mentorship
  • Wellness training

Gender Equity & Anti-Racism

  • Laura Zeigen, M.P.H., M.L.I.S., liaison librarian and assistant professor, OHSU School of Medicine. Teaches on history of women entering the healthcare space and the role of gender.
  • Dana Ghazi, from OHSU’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at OHSU, WLDP curriculum consultant, weaving anti-racism themes into leadership development for women participants
  • Workshop on the gender pay gap and how to advocate for yourself in healthcare spaces.
  • Anti-racism in the learning environment, workshop with Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Leadership skill development

  • Brian Park, MD, Assist Prof of Family Medicine, Director of the Relate Lab in the Dept of Family Medicine and Relational Leadership Institute. Teaches about narrative leadership and how to turn your personal narrative into action and advocacy.
  • Niki Steckler, PhD, Assoc Prof, Divison of Management at OHSU, teaches on strategies to be an impactful leader through deep listening and facing conflict effectively.
  • Sessions with accomplished women including female deans and division chairs in the OHSU community
  • Encouragement of WLDP participants to run for leadership positions (successes have been numerous including multiple presidents of the student government, student group leaders, multiple scholarship/award recipients)

Community building and Mentorship

  • Regular events to bring WLDP women together beyond the curriculum setting
  • Pairing of 2nd year WLDP women with 1st year WLDP women to encourage growth and peer mentoring
  • Conference participation with teams spanning cohorts to bring together different WLDP generations
  • Mentorship from expert teachers in the WLDP curriculum
  • Formal WLDP alumni network for career advice when thinking about residency selection and location


  • Elizabeth Lahti, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of Narrative Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, teaches the value of reflective practice for women leaders on their journeys through healthcare training.
  • Workshop on being a healthy woman during medical training, wisdom from faculty reflecting on their journeys
  • Potlucks, weekend retreats, and social events to support experiences beyond the classroom to promote balance and well-being.
  • Financial support and grants from the Oregon Medical Education Foundation, Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland, the OHSU School of Medicine Dean's Office & Bacon Grant, American Medical Women's Association Scholarships
  • Presentations at the American Medical Women's Association Annual Conference 2017 (3rd place win in student poster competition), American Medical Association Education Innovation Conference 2017 workshop presentation, Oregon Medical Association Annual Conference 2017 and 2018 workshop presentations, Association of American Medical Colleges annual western states meeting 2018 workshop presentation and poster
  • Multiple WLDP women becoming leaders in the School of Medicine and beyond, including: two presidents of student government, co-chair of a clinic to support health and social services for the under-served in Portland, student founders of the OHSU Gender Equity Center, student health advisory committee president addressing mental health needs of medical students, AMWA student chapter president and the majority of the leadership team, Institute for Healthcare Improvement co-president and IHI Change Agent of the Year Award Recipient.
Meghan Vanderwettering - WLDP Leader and Medical Student, Class of 2022, OHSU School of Medicine

"Joining Women's Leadership Development Program (WLDP) meant I had an immediate community of powerful, thoughtful female-identifying leaders eager to connect and support one another. Early on as a student leader in the OHSU School of Medicine, I was connected through WLDP to the third-year President of Student Council, Monique Hedmann, MD. Not only did we get to serve our classes at a time when all the Student Council Presidents were women, her support and wisdom as a powerful female-identifying leader helped me to develop a more authentic professional identity and navigate many complex leadership challenges. Much of my professional development can be attributed to the professional relationships I made through WLDP."

Kristen Ash, ANP-BC, DNP Student in the School of Nursing, WLDP participant

"I've been a nurse practitioner for many years and I serve in a couple of leadership roles at OHSU. I am enrolled in OHSU’s Post-Master's Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, so when this opportunity came up to be a part of the Women's Leadership Development Program I couldn't wait to get started! I'm thrilled to see how WLDP can expand to other disciplines and I am honored to be involved." 

Hannah Dischinger, MD, Internal Medicine Resident OHSU and WLDP Alumni and Senior Leader, Class of 2020, OHSU School of Medicine

“The Women's Leadership Development Program at OHSU was an inimitable component of my education as a medical student at OHSU - it provided me with leadership skills I would not have had the chance to develop otherwise (and, perhaps more critically, encouragement to leverage those skills). It also provided me with a rich community of bright, bold women that pushed me to the edge of my potential. Now that I am in the residency phase of my training, I've found joy in offering mentorship and guidance to current WLDP student members. One thing I love about the WLDP is the respectful flattening of hierarchy: there are many women-identified attendings I've felt comfortable reaching out to because of their involvement in our network, and similarly I have been a resource to students who may not have contacted me without the WLDP.” 

Lillian Navarro-Reynolds, WLDP PA Program Faculty Leader, OHSU

“I am really excited to be involved with WLDP both on a personal and profession level.  A shift in the culture of medical practice and education is needed to retain and promote women.  I hope that we can start to recognize the importance of alternate pathways to and within our careers to make leadership roles appealing and accessible to more women.  This is a place for true inter-professional collaboration.  We can bring together diverse experiences to recognize and solve problems and decrease barriers.  I look forward to seeing what we can develop at the intersection of our professions.”

WLDP Team Collage
WLDP Team of Action

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