Scholarly Concentration in Women’s Reproductive Health

Concentration Directors:

Daria Szkwarko, DO, MPH
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  401-729-2238
Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, 111 Brewster St, Pawtucket, RI 02860 

Rebecca Allen, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Email:  [email protected]
Phone: 401-274-1122, x42724
Women and Infants Hospital of RI, 101 Dudley Street, Providence RI 02905


Women's reproductive rights and freedom are key determinants of women's health and are highly influenced by women's roles in society. In the U.S. and abroad, women's reproductive health is threatened by limited access to effective contraception, timely diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, safe abortion, skilled maternity care, and infertility treatments.
The purpose of the Women's Reproductive Health scholarly concentration is to prepare graduates to promote and advance women's reproductive health through patient care, education, research, and advocacy. Research has documented the need for comprehensive reproductive health education in U.S. medical schools. Few schools adequately address issues surrounding abortion, contraception, adolescent pregnancy and parenting, or causes and consequences of infertility. Effective reproductive health care also requires skilled history taking, patient education and counseling. Understanding of non-biological determinants of health and illness, including economic, psychological, social and cultural factors, is critical to ensuring quality reproductive health care for women. Physicians and other health professionals have a key role as advocates in protecting women's reproductive health, especially for underserved and/or vulnerable populations (including adolescents, incarcerated women, immigrants and refugees, women with disabilities, minorities, and LGBTQ women).


Learning Objectives:

By graduation, students will be able to:

  1. Provide patient-centered counseling for reproductive health issues, such as unwanted pregnancy and abortion, contraception (including emergency contraception, prenatal health, breastfeeding, and STI prevention).
  2. Apply advanced knowledge in one or more of the following reproductive health content areas to care of patients: Human sexuality, contraception, abortion, pregnancy and birth, postnatal care and breastfeeding, sexual health, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual abuse, gender-based violence, infertility, cervical cancer/HPV, breast cancer, and adolescent reproductive health.
  3. Discuss the effects of gender inequality on women's reproductive health, rights, and freedom.
  4. Describe legal and other restrictions on access to reproductive health services and their effects on individual and public health, especially for vulnerable populations.
  5. Apply principles of medical ethics to resolve dilemmas regarding assisted reproductive technologies, limited access to resources, and conflicts between providers' beliefs and patient autonomy in reproductive health.
  6. Recognize the physician's role in protecting and advocating for reproductive health.


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4


  • Attend seminar series (4-5/semester)




  • Write position paper on reproductive health issue (Fall)


  • Participate in one reproductive health clinical elective



Concentration Project 

  • Identify faculty mentor (Fall)


  • Establish concentration project with faculty mentor and apply for summer research assistantship (Winter)


  • Summer Research Assistantship


  • Project progress reports




  • Present project at national meeting




  • Present at Brown Research Day
  • Submit report for publication (if applicable)



  • Complete Reproductive Health Portfolio


  • Present final project to concentration faculty and students


For each learning objective, mastery will be evaluated as follows:

1. Each student will participate in a clinical elective involving reproductive health in the 3rd or 4th year.
2. During the 2nd year, students will attend the women’s reproductive health seminar series.
3. During the 2nd year, each student will write a position paper on a reproductive health issue, addressing gender inequality, legal, and/or public health issues that affect reproductive health.
4. Each student will design, implement, evaluate, and present a concentration project involving research, education, or advocacy related to women’s reproductive health.

  • Students will identify a faculty advisor to mentor their project activities and will submit a project plan to be approved by the concentration directors.
  • Students will submit annual written reports describing progress on their concentration project.
  • Students are encouraged to present their projects at national conferences in their field of study.
  • Students will prepare a portfolio of their concentration work including their final project for a review committee of reproductive health professionals. 
  • Students will present their projects to the concentration faculty and students.

Concentration Related Electives



  • Breast Disease
  • Women’s Mental Health Elective
  • Subinternship in Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery
  • Subinternship in Gynecologic Oncology and Pelvic Surgery
  • Intro to Women's Diagnostic Imaging
  • Subinternship in Maternal Fetal Medicine
  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
  • Subinternship in Women's Emergency Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Gynecologic and Breast Pathology
  • Clinical Cancer Genetics

Project Examples
Scholarly products will most likely take the form of poster presentations and written reports.  Current and past student project topics include:

•    Partner access to emergency contraception
•    High-risk sexual behaviors among female sex workers in Shanghai, China
•    Improving prenatal patient education using Electronic Medical Record prompts
•    Prenatal SSRI exposure effects on placental SERT expression
•    Quality of care after sexual assault
•    Barriers to breast cancer screening and genetic testing for Latina women
•    Birth experiences of Karen refugees in Buffalo, NY
•    Family medicine residents’ preparation to care for women with unintended pregnancy
•    Exploring the implications of fetal origins of postnatal disease for practitioners and patients
•    Beyond Pregnancy Prevention: The Impact of Contraception on Women’s sexual experiences   and perceptions
•    A Pilot Study of HPV Subtype Shifts in Persistent High Grade Cervical Dysplasia
•    Let’s Talk About Sex – How Teaching Sex Education Impacts Medical Students’ Ability to discuss sexual health   with patients
•    Obstetric and gynecologic care of incarcerated populations
•    Understanding the role of U.S. immigration
•    status in knowledge, screening practices and barriers to cervical cancer screening
•   Assessing Fertility Desires, Family Planning Use, and Future Reproductive Intentions among HIV-positive women in Kumasi, Ghana

Maximum Number of Students
The scholarly concentration will be limited to 4-6 medical students per year.  

Faculty Mentors
Faculty (including but not limited to the following):

Family Medicine

•    Susanna Magee, MD, MPH:  maternal child health, prenatal care
•    Andrea Arena, MD: women’s health
•    Daria Szkwarko, DO, MPH: global health
•    Nicole Gleyzer, DO: maternal child health
•    Jennifer Rosenbaum, MD: maternal child health

Internal medicine

  • Susan Cu-Uvin MD: infectious diseases, HIV infection, international health
  • Christine Duffy, MD: sexuality, cancer survivors
  • Joseph Harwell MD: infectious diseases, HIV infection, international health
  • Kelly McGarry, MD: women's health, medical education
  • Jennifer Clarke, MD: health of incarcerated women
  • Rebecca Reece, MD:  infectious diseases


  • Rebecca Allen, MD, MPH: gynecology, family planning
  • Erica Werner, MD: maternal fetal medicine
  • Sarah Fox, MD: pelvic pain
  • Kristin Matteson MD, MPH: gynecology, health care outcomes
  • Katina Robison, MD: gynecologic oncology, HPV
  • Lynae Braeboy, MD:  reproductive endocrinology and infertility, basic science
  • Erica Hardy, MD:  reproductive infectious diseases


  • James Padbury, MD: perinatal biology
  • Michelle Forcier, MD: adolescent health, LGBTQ health

Funding Opportunities (alternatives to Summer Assistantships)
The concentration has received a gift from Ann Glazer '80 and Barkley Stuart '81 to support student projects and travel.