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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Lesly Tamarin Mega, M.D.

Picture of Lesly Tamarin Mega
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Lesly Tamarin Mega, M.D.

“I had to make a decision about becoming a doctor at 17 years of age because of the unusual program I would be in-six years for a bachelor's degree and an MD. We took our undergraduate arts courses during the summers; it was really intense. But I wanted to be a doctor”

NOMINATING CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Walter B. Jones

“ACTIVIST, TEACHER, MENTOR, ROLE MODEL AND MOTHER”

BIOGRAPHY

"It was ridiculous. The system wasn't set up for women," Lesly Mega recalls of her coming of age as a doctor in the early 1970s. "I was eight months pregnant, holding down two part-time jobs and prepping for the psychiatric boards. Rather than assign me to a nearby hospital, I had to go clear across Manhattan. I got through the test, went home and at 4 o'clock the following morning, my water broke!"

The unflagging energy, dedication, creativity and good humor that boosted Mega over such early hurdles are what have contributed to her becoming a Local Legend of Medicine, praised by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC-3) as an "accomplished doctor and outstanding leader."

Mega today is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Medicine and Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatric Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine (BSOM) at East Carolina University, nationally recognized as a leader in the professional development of female physicians and medical students, and a mentor to many. She arrived at BSOM in 1982.

"I left Manhattan to help build a new medical school, to train minority students, including women, and to provide primary care serving the underserved," she explains.

As the first and only woman professor of psychiatry at East Carolina University (and in the entire state of North Carolina!) for several years thereafter, she soon took the lead to make a difference, founding American Medical Women's Association Branch 77 for women faculty, students and local physicians, and, in 1993, establishing and chairing what has become BSOM's official Women in Medicine Committee.

Although the Committee has equalized some women faculty's salaries and brings to the fore continuing issues of inequity, Mega is proudest of helping to found, serve and involve BSOM students in the Pitt County Domestic Violence Shelter/Program. (As medical director from 1978 to 1982 in New Jersey of one of the country's first family violence outreach treatment programs, she became expert at recognizing and treating the many facets of family violence.)

"I brought my experience with me and have tried to inspire others to work in the field; to heighten awareness of spousal abuse, child sexual abuse. Family violence is an important clinical theme. It goes on and we can do something about it," Mega insists.

Remaining focused on making a difference, she has been advocating for a Women's Center for Leadership in Academic Medicine at BSOM. "Academic medicine has a heavy-duty glass ceiling," she believes, noting that although women make up more than half the nation's medical students, they are "still a minority in the big picture," comprising only a third of the total faculty and a mere 15 percent of the full professorships.

"Still," she says, "medicine is a wonderful field for women, with lots of flexibility. But you have to be aware of your biological clock. I was in a very special position: I finished all my training before I was 30, so could wait to have kids."

(Postscript: Medicine runs in the Mega family. Lesly's husband is a retired physician, their daughter a cardiologist, their son a fourth-year medical student!)

MILESTONES

1968

Earns MD and AB degrees in unique, six-year Liberal Arts and Medical Program at Boston University

1970

Completes residency in general psychiatry, New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital

1972

Completes fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Treatment Center for Children, Richmond, VA

1973

Completes residency in general psychiatry, New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital

1982

First female psychiatrist appointed to the Department of Psychiatry, Brody School of Medicine (BSOM) at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

1993

Founds and becomes Chair of Women in Medicine Committee, BSOM

1993-1994

Elected president, North Carolina Psychiatric Association

2003

Selected by her peers as a BSOM Master Educator; also, elected a Distinguished Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association and receives (for the second time!) its Nancy C.A. Roeske Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Teaching

2005

Receives Bertha Van Hoosen Award for "exceptional leadership and service" from the American Medical Women's Association

BORN

1944

MEDICAL SCHOOL

Boston University

SPECIALTY

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

LOCATION

North Carolina