According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 percent of the healthcare workforce is made of women but fewer than 20 percent are in key leadership positions. In a separate study, it is said that only 4 percent of healthcare companies are led by women. While these numbers may be disheartening for women in the field, Claudia Welke, MD, Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Compass Health Center, believes that women deserve a place in leadership in the mental healthcare industry.
“Mental health is a space that is ripe for women in leadership,” said Dr. Welke.
Read our Q&A with Dr. Welke to learn more about her journey as a leader in the mental healthcare industry.
When you were starting Compass alongside co-founder David Schreiber, MD, did you encounter any unique challenges as a woman navigating the healthcare industry?
I’m not sure that my experience was unique but starting Compass while having three small children was certainly a juggling act! The lessons learned was to stop comparing myself to other working moms who seemed to have it all figured out. I read a quote by Michelle Obama about the myth of being able to have it all and it resonated with me. As a full-time working mom there certainly is a pressure to be perfect at both and I have learned that is not always attainable and that is ok.
Do you think mentorship is important for women who are starting their own business in the mental health/healthcare field?
Mentorship is vital for all women in all careers! I would say there have been instrumental women mentoring me throughout my career, but my ultimate mentor and role model was my mom. She taught me to believe in myself and never let anyone say you can’t do something. When I think about her experience, immigrating from South America to the U.S., a lawyer but not being able to practice, I am in awe. As women, we need to continually lift each other up and serve as mentors to those making their way.
What advice would you give women professionals working towards leadership roles in the mental health/healthcare industry?
Follow your passions. We are energized by what inspires us. Mental health treatment is very broad so narrowing your interest can also be helpful. Our most successful leaders have become experts in their areas, whether it is based on age, types of treatment, specific diagnosis or other variables. Find what moves you and let that be your focus. Success is driven by passion. Mental health is a space that is ripe for women in leadership. Eighty-two percent of Compass staff identify as women and 77 percent of people in leadership positions identify as women. Don’t be afraid to take chances or make mistakes, you will miss 100% of the opportunities that you don’t try.
How can we be a support system to the female business owners in our lives?
Reach out to them. I love connecting with others who have similar stories and busy lives like mine, not just business owners. Back to the notion of juggling a lot of balls and “having it all” is felt by most moms.
What advice do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago when you were first starting Compass Health Center?
Have humility. The mission is bigger than one person. Ten years ago, I was confident in my reputation and competency as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and I felt that I could touch their lives through my practice. Compass’ mission was much bigger than me as an individual. problem solving the mental health crisis is one that is too great for one person, it is teams of people working together with an open mindedness and curiosity.
The Women of Compass Health Center
Compass Health Center strives to support women in the mental health field working towards career goals. Eighty-two percent of our team is made up of individuals who identify as women and 77 percent of those in leadership roles identify as women.
To learn more about our story and the Compass difference, visit our leadership page.