Colonel Karen O’Brien wins Female Military Physician Leader Award

Col Karen O'Brien

By Debbie Gregory.

Ever since Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from an American medical school, Geneva Medical College in 1849, women have played a vital role in medicine. The American Medical Association (AMA) honors this role, in part, by making September “Women in Medicine” Month. The concept is designed to recognize the growing number of women physicians in the profession.

In support of Women in Medicine Month, the Department of Defense’s Military Health System has created the Female Military Physician Leader Award. This accolade was created to honor military physicians, in leadership positions, for their contributions to military medicine, as well as for their role in mentoring and inspiring others. Since 2010, the award is open to female military physicians in all service branches. It is administered by the Military Health System’s Chief Human Capital Office.

This year’s top award went to Army Colonel Karen O’Brien. Col O’Brien serves as deputy commander for clinical services at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. She also serves as chief medical officer for the base.

O’Brien attended medical school at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences, located in Bethesda, Maryland. She is also married to a fellow Army Colonel, and is a mother of three. O’Brien was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan at the end of September.

This year’s other honorees included: Air Force junior winner, Lt. Col. Pamela M. Williams; Navy junior winner, Cmdr. Kimberly Davis; and Army junior winner, Lt. Col. Bonnie Hartstein.

As advocates for providing the best possible health care to the men and women serving in our armed forces, MilitaryConnection would like to thank Col. O’Brien; Lt. Col. Willams; Cmdr. Davis; and Lt. Col. Hartstein for their leadership contributions to military medicine and congratulate them on their awards.