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Penn Ophthalmology Women's Association
The first POWA event in May 2019 brought together female ophthalmology faculty, residents, and fellows at Penn.
By Nora Laberee 
Scheie Vision Annual Report 2019

In 2018, Prathima Neerukonda Atluri, MD, established the Penn Ophthalmology Women’s Association (POWA) with the goal of bringing together female ophthalmologists at Penn Medicine. The purpose of POWA is to further academic success in female ophthalmologists by promoting an environment that fosters career development, education, and networking. Dr. Neerukonda was inspired to start the group to celebrate and nurture the growth of women in ophthalmology. 

“With such a large Department, I think it’s important to celebrate our strengths, one of which is our large number of female faculty members,” she explained.  “We should be available to one another to foster career development, encourage mentoring, and provide a platform to develop leadership skills.”

The group hosted its first event in May 2019, held at the Continental Midtown in Center City Philadelphia. The purpose of this event was to spend time with fellow female ophthalmologists at Penn in a more social setting. The event was a great success, with 23 Penn physicians, residents, and fellows in attendance. “We had a large turnout from both faculty and residents,” Dr. Neerukonda said. “We were able to exchange ideas for future events.” 

The group’s next event was the POWA Symposium, which took place in October 2019 at the Scheie Eye Institute. The event included invited speakers who discussed issues such as physician burnout and leadership development. These speakers, including Dr. Lisa Bellini, Senior Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at Penn Medicine, came from both within the Penn community and beyond. 

Looking forward, Dr. Neerukonda hopes to expand the group and create a space for communication and progress. “I hope developing this group will create an environment of inclusivity and camaraderie, where we can share information and learn about relevant topics that affect our personal and professional lives,” said Dr. Neerukonda. 

Chairman Joan O’Brien, MD, is a strong supporter of POWA and its mission: “This new association is a valuable addition to the Department, and I am thrilled to see the group grow and continue to make a positive impact here.”

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