top of page

Women’s Health Scholar Certificate

The Women's Health Scholar (WHS) Certificate Program, established in 2006, provides concentrated experiences for medical students in women's health spanning research, clinical training, and community outreach. It is jointly sponsored by the FOCUS program and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Below is a brief outline of the four components necessary for completion of a Women's Health Scholar Certificate. Since the first component, the Women's Health Intensive, involves summer between the first and second year of medical school, it is important to consider this opportunity by late Spring of the first year in order to be able to complete all four components. For more information, please contact: Sue Primavera.

Goal: To provide concentrated experiences for medical students (men and women) in women's health* -- spanning research, clinical training and community outreach. (*women's health defined broadly)

WHS Certificate Oversight Committee
These multi-disciplinary faculty and staff represent diverse areas of women's health and oversee and manage the requirements of the Certificate. Students who pursue the Certificate will meet once a year with the Committee as a group for an informal check-in and to answer any questions about completing the requirements. The faculty on the Oversight Committee (see pictured below) are also available to provide students with career mentoring on an individual basis and for any guidance to navigate the requirements to complete the WHS Certificate.

Deborah Driscoll MD
Luigi Mastroianni, Jr. Professor and Chair, Obstetrics & Gynecology
Director of the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health

Stephanie Abbuhl MD
Professor and Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Emergency Medicine
Executive Director, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women

Hillary Bogner MD MSCE
Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Family Medicine & Community Health
Director of Research Programs, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women

Courtney Schreiber MD MPH
Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Lucy W. Tuton PhD
Adjunct Professor, Medicine
Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology: Prevention and Population Health
Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program
Director of Professional Development, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women
Executive Director, Bridging the Gaps


Susan Primavera
Operations, FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women

WHS Certificate Advisory Council
These additional faculty represent a diverse range of specialties that encompass the broad field of women's health and are available to students pursuing the Certificate as a resource when considering research mentors and project topics. They also are willing to provide general guidance and advice about careers in women's health.

Aletha Y. Akers, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Pediatrics
Division of Adolescent Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Angela Bradbury, MD
Assistant Professor, Medicine
Division of Hematology Oncology
Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Ellen Casey, MD
Assistant Professor, Sports Medicine
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Emily Conant, MD
Professor, Radiology
Chief, Division of Breast Imaging
Vice Chair of Faculty Development

C. Neill Epperson, MD
Professor, Psychiatry
Director, Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness

Richard Shlansky-Goldberg, MD
Professor, Radiology

Steve Sondheimer, MD
Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Julia C. Tchou, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Surgery
Division of Endocrine & Oncologic Surgery

Where have our students who have graduated with the Women's Health Certificate moved to in residency?

Four Requirements:  download pdf brochure 

Please take special note: It is the student's responsibility to notify Susan Primavera within the month following completion of any of the four program components below, in order to have credit applied toward this Certificate.

1. Intensive Summer Experience in Women's Health
6 to 8 weeks during the summer between first and second year.

Choose one of the following two options:

A. Bridging the Gaps: Community Health Internship Program (CHIP)<link>
Project must be at a women’s health/maternal or child related site

Please contact: Ellen Martinak, MS

Required reporting handled through the BTG program.


B. Independent, Mentored Women’s Health Research Project
Find a mentor- Create a proposal- Obtain approval.

For additional guidance about research opportunities and for approval of your project idea/proposal,
Please contact: Courtney Schreiber, MD MPH   

Required proposal and reporting (for option B only)

2. Seminar Attendance related to Women's Health
Attendance at 12 seminars (minimum), or equivalent* between 1st year and mid-December of final year of medical school

Seminar requirements can be completed through:

  • Grand Rounds in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Endocrinology, Medicine, Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health, and other Department/Division presentations focused on women’s health

  • FOCUS Lunchtime Seminars or other program presentations that are relevant to women's health

  • Outside presentations pertaining to women’s health at meetings or conferences at any location (e.g., professional meetings and societies)

Seminar attendance must be tracked using the grid indicated below.

For more information and to be placed on email notification list for Grand Rounds,
Please contact: Marian Rossi

Required tracking for reporting

Students must submit a detailed list of all seminars attended (see grid above that includes date, presenter(s), seminar title, location, and brief description of each) to Marian Rossi.

3. Elective in Women's Health
1 month – Prerequisite: Obstetrics & Gynecology clerkship

A one month elective in women’s health can be satisfied by taking any one of the elective options described below. The oversight committee is also willing to consider other electives but these will require prior approval.

For information about participating in any of the electives below,
Please contact: Philip J. McCabe

A. The elective in Maternal Child Health (Fam 350) -- or -- Any elective in the UME course catalogue listed under:
Obstetrics & Gynecology -- Breast Imaging or Women's Imaging in Radiology -- Breast Surgery in Surgery


B. One of the following three additional elective options (see details of each below):
Penn Health at Radnor -- Ludmir Center at Pennsylvania Hospital -- Family Planning

  • Penn Health for Women at Radnor

Coordinators: Dr. Ann Honebrink, Director of Penn Health for Women, and Dr. Allison Oler, internist

Description:  Penn Health for Women is an interdisciplinary program dedicated to providing the highest quality health care to women of all ages. Comprehensive services are provided in one convenient location by a team of gynecologists, obstetricians, internists, pediatric & adolescent gynecologist, urogynecologist, reproductive endocrinologists, breast surgeon, psychologists, and nutritionist.  Special programs including yoga, Pilates, weight control & sleep disorders. Close collaborative relationship with other available services on site such as radiology, dermatology, cardiology and GI.

Objective:  To expose the student to multi-disciplinary, collaborative approaches to primary health care for women.  Students will have an opportunity to participate in patient care with different team members as well as meet with the Director of Operations and Patient Services and the practice manager to gain an appreciation of management issues.

-- To understand the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to Women’s Health care
-- To understand the components of appropriate preventive care for women
-- To appreciate the administrative challenges and benefits of operating a multi-disciplinary ambulatory program

Availability: All months except July, August and October.

  • The Ludmir Center at Pennsylvania Hospital

Coordinator: Dr. Sabrina Sukhan

Description: The Ludmir Center, formerly Women’s and Children’s Health Services (WCHS), is dedicated to providing health care services to women of all ages from our community and surrounding areas. Most of our patients are underserved and enjoy coming because of our reputation for excellence in a caring environment. Health services include: family planning, prenatal care, colposcopy and gynecology. The care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, and nutritionists.

Objective: To familiarize the student to gynecologic and obstetric issues faced by women from underserved and diverse populations. The student will have the opportunity to be an active participant in the care of these women, and have exposure to the challenges and dilemmas in providing health care to them.

  • Family Planning

Coordinators: Dr. Courtney Schreiber, Director of Penn Family Planning & Pregnancy Loss Center, and Dr. Steve Sondheimer

Description:  Penn Family Planning and Pregnancy Loss Center provides a full range of contraceptive choices, option counseling, as well as medications and surgical abortion care.

Objectives:  To expose students to family planning and abortion services in the Family Planning and Pregnancy Loss Program.  Students will participate in patient care, as well as meet with counselors, lawyers, and others involved in the provision of abortion services in Philadelphia.

-- To understand each of the contraceptive choices available, including benefits, efficacy, counseling issues, and contraindications
-- To understand options counseling and its components
-- To understand the components of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act
-- To learn about abortion services in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia
-- To understand the components of medications and surgical abortion

4. Scholarly Pursuit Project in Women's Health
3 months minimum

Find a mentor - Create a proposal - Obtain approval
See ideas of projects and faculty mentors (not necessarily current) listed here.

  • The FOCUS Medical Student Fellowship (6 months) or another funded research experience (minimum of 3 months) that has been approved by the WHS Certificate faculty can be used to fulfill this requirement.

  • A Master's thesis focused on women's health can fulfill this requirement if topic approved by WHS Certificate Committee.

For guidance about research opportunities and for approval of your project idea/proposal,
please contact: Hillary R. Bogner MD MSCE

For general information about this component and the FOCUS Fellowship,
please contact: Susan Primavera

Required proposal and reporting

*Within the month following completion of any of the four program components above, students must notify Susan Primavera in order to receive credit toward this Certificate.

bottom of page