Medical professor receives Inspiration Award

Katie Langley, Contributing Writer

The American Medical Association (AMA) Women Physicians Section honored Quinnipiac School of Medicine professor Dr. Listy Thomas with the 2020 Inspiration Award this September.

“I’m beyond humbled that in this time of the most difficult experiences for all of us, medical students have the wherewithal to think of a professor and nominate them for the award,” Thomas said.

This year, the Inspiration Award honored 74 professional physicians who are role models for other physicians, residents and students through the nominations from AMA members. Thomas was nominated by her medical students.

“Dr. Thomas is the backbone of my medical education; she is a woman of color and an excellent mentor, educator and emergency physician,” said Laura Cantu, a third-year medical student, to the AMA. “As (COVID-19) tore through her community and her own close relations, Dr. Thomas continued to work the frontline while organizing educational opportunities for medical students to learn about how the pandemic was being handled.”

Fourth-year medical student Nicole McAmis, who also nominated Thomas, said that the professor has inspired her.

“Dr. Thomas has made a huge impact in my life,” McAmis said. “She was one of the first people to believe in me, one of the first people to never doubt my abilities. And for that I am truly grateful.”

Thomas is an associate professor of medical sciences, the director of clinical arts and sciences and assistant dean of simulation at the School of Medicine. Before coming to Quinnipiac in 2013, she earned her bachelor’s degree from New York University, then studied medicine at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. She also earned a master’s degree from Quinnipiac.

When Thomas is not teaching, she is working in the emergency room of St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is part of Hartford Healthcare. She wanted the position in the emergency room because of its inclusiveness, she said.

“I specifically chose emergency medicine because of its safety-net, open-door policy,” Thomas said.

Her motivation to become a doctor came from her upbringing and the traumas and difficulties she has seen over the years. She said she has always been interested in academic medicine.

“I think I always just wanted to help people,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she wants to encourage young girls and women to break into the medical field.

“That’s (women in medicine) a little bit of a passion project of mine,” Thomas said. “If that’s (medicine) something you’re thinking of pursuing, it can be done. Right now, the American medical field is more than 50% female and it’s leaning more female.”

Some of those in the medical field are facing many hardships right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With patients unable to see visitors in person, Thomas said she and her colleagues have provided patients with iPads to video call their loved ones.

“It’s been challenging,” Thomas said. “In emergency medicine, this is what we prepare for.”

Thomas said she believes that the U.S. has failed to deal with the crisis properly, letting the virus get out of control.

Regardless of one’s profession, Thomas said it’s necessary to find time to rest.

“In this time of COVID, self-care is still important and it’s very easy to lose track of that,” Thomas said.