I am determined to improve the reproductive health and well-being of girls and women around the planet. My journey has brought me through the intersection of passion and advocacy and led me down my current path of empowerment for girls, and the evolution of vaginal health for women.
Why a Pediatric Gynecologist?
“Why pursue a subspecialty in pediatric gynecology?”
It’s the question I get asked most often. The answer is both simple and complex – a fitting contrast that also applies to the challenges facing many young girls at the intersection of childhood and womanhood.
During my residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Ottawa, I discovered a love for working with adolescent girls. I connected with them more than any other group of patients. I remember being their age and found myself overjoyed and energized when working with them; relishing the opportunity to nurture these young girls the way I would have nurtured my younger self. I empowered them with knowledge about their reproductive health, but I was also profoundly drawn to encourage these young women to trust in their own personal power, and believe that they could accomplish anything they so desire.
That faith and trust in self wasn’t just a kind sentiment, it’s a creed that I lived by, and in fact, it is what gave me the perseverance to complete med school, despite a rocky start.
An Underdog Story
A decade before I discovered my love of pediatric gynecology, I was in a much different place having just bombed/done horribly my first year of PreMed at McGill University. I was an underdog. I had heard the words “no”, “you’ll never make it” and “you don’t have what it takes” more times than I care to remember.
At that time I made the fateful decision to change course and pursue a degree in Psychology and African Studies. My dream of pursuing medicine was hardly over, but now I would be learning an even richer lesson in perseverance and determination. In that time I continued to grow as a person, learn new strengths, even learn a new language. For a time it might have looked like the naysayers were right, but little did they know I am a fighter, and when I know what I want, I will do everything to make it happen.
A few short years later all my hard work and hard-fought faith in myself paid off – I had been accepted into Med School. However, it was in a language I didn’t really speak comfortably (yet) – French. Regardless, I was always going to find a way. I was now one step closer to discovering my passion for working with young girls in the field of pediatric gynecology, and pursuing the advanced degree in vaginal wound healing that would one day lead to an invention designed by Team Vagina. Not bad for an underdog.
I am honored and proud to say that I am the only GYN in North America to also run a basic science lab. When I’m not on-call or managing my clinical responsibilities, I’m in the lab as often as possible – honestly, there is no place that I’d rather be. My all-female lab ( also known as “Team Vagina”) is run by myself and two other absolutely fantastic, inspiring, and brilliant scientists – Jennifer McCracken and Gisele Calderon.
Together we study how the vagina heals after injury, as we develop tools, techniques, and medical devices to help improve the healing process for vaginas. Our work has led to US and international patents on the first vaginal stent designed specifically for pediatric and adolescent gynecology and women after cancer radiation treatments. The stent’s design aids in vaginal healing and recovery following the trauma of surgical or radiation. My team and I along with the $1.8M in external funding that has been secured for our vaginal stent, are now in the process of leading a FIW clinical trial on vaginal stents in pediatric and adolescent girls and women with gynecologic cancers.
The Future is FemTech Focus
My passion for supporting women in and outside of the lab has led to a partnership with another incredibly talented science professional, Dr.Brittany Barreto with whom I co-own FemTech Focus. This non-profit organization is all about advancing women’s healthcare by empowering the Femtech industry through awareness, leadership, resources, and opportunities. There is an overwhelming disparity when it comes to female representation in the healthcare and technology sectors. My intention is to change this dynamic by supporting those industry disruptors that make women’s health a priority and a passion.
Education = Empowerment
I was an underdog throughout elementary, high school, and in undergrad. I know more than most the challenge of being underestimated and overlooked. Women in general, and in particular women of color are often undervalued, marginalized, and consequently a high-risk group in the healthcare sector. This is why I fervently pursue opportunities to educate and empower adolescent and teen girls in the Latina community. Not only do I want to support demystifying reproductive health in this community, I also want to empower these young girls to become young women who believe in themselves.
She Believed She Could, And She Did
Believing in yourself is everything. That’s how I went from bombing my first year of PreMed to becoming a board-certified OB/GYN in two countries with a subspecialty in pediatric gynecology, another on the way in Obesity Management, and an advanced degree in vaginal wound healing.
I didn’t take “no” for an answer. In fact, I saw every “no” as an opportunity to go around, through, and over.
My background is not in STEM, science or engineering, and yet I’ve created an entire new research focus in the largest medical center in the world. How did I do it?
I believed that I could, and then I did.
I want to inspire young women who are on their own journey to self-discovery to know that they too can accomplish their dreams if they can develop trust in themselves, find their passion, and never lose sight of it despite obstacles in their paths. and follow their passion.
CHANGING THE LIVES OF WOMXN AND GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD
Changing the lives of women and girls around the world
SomosGYN is on a mission to demystify the stigma around women's reproductive health, especially in the Latina community. Shame and silence around reproductive health keeps many girls silent, ashamed, and uninformed about their bodies and menstruation. SomosGYN is a safe place to have these conversations and empower girls and teens to better understand and support their own reproductive health.
For decades health care for women has been considered a “niche” industry and nothing more. This underserved and untapped industry deserved more than a passing glance which is why Dr. Julie Hakim co-founded Femtech Focus - a Houston based non-profit on a mission to increase awareness, resources, and opportunities within the femtech space.
The Tumaini Children's Project
Dr. Julie Hakim is the Founder of The Tumaini Childrenʼs Project - an international non-profit focused on uplifting youth. Their mission is simple - to provide hope and opportunities to orphaned Kenyan children affected by HIV/AIDS, through education, and implementing sustainable development projects.