Dr. LeeAnn Tanaka Describes Her Experiences as a Female Physician
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Women in Medicine Month 
LeeAnn Tanaka, DO '14

September 26, 2023

During September, which is the American Medical Association's Women in Medicine month, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) recognizes our women physicians who serve as faculty members and role models for our students across all three of our campuses in Philadelphia, Suwanee and Moultrie. PCOM has selected a representative “Woman in Medicine” to feature in a web story, however we honor and celebrate all of our physicians and student doctors and their commitment to advancing equity and creating change.

Professional headshot photo of PCOM's LeeAnn Tanaka, DO '14LeeAnn Tanaka, DO '14, received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree from PCOM in 2014 and completed her residency in Family Medicine at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware in 2017. Dr. Tanaka has practiced family medicine with a focus on women's health, reproductive health, and gender affirming care in the primary care setting for several years. 

What has your experience been like being a woman in medicine at PCOM?

It's been very rewarding working with students. I talk to them about being a woman in medicine and how that can be a difficult but ultimately rewarding experience. I didn't take advantage of mentorship as a student but did as a resident and it made all the difference in being able to navigate residency - especially after I had my child in my second year.

What encouraged you to pursue a career in medicine?

While considering applying to medical school I worked on childhood nutrition and obesity research. I recognized how impactful people's connection with their physician could be with regards to their life long health. I felt most drawn to preventative medicine, with the goal of educating people to help them try to avoid or improve chronic conditions.

How are you creating change as a woman in medicine?

I try to offer support and advice to students based on my own personal experience navigating medical school, residency, and beyond. I also try to help ensure all students I work with understand how the way we evaluate and manage patients is often complicated by the historical context of lack of research in marginalized communities including women, nonbinary folks and BIPOC.

What advice would you give to a young woman who is interested in becoming a physician?

Find mentors who you connect with and can support your journey! Often having a mentor from a similar background, whether your gender, race, locale or experiences can help you navigate a complex training. Your mentor doesn't have to look just like you though! They can just be someone with whom you connect and who is willing to help you throughout the process. It's a long training and having people in your corner who can help you traverse the experience, or to whom you can go for support in particularly difficult periods, can really make a world of difference.

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  • About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

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    Email: liandrala@pcom.edu
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