Breaking News
More () »

Cleveland Clinic doctor becoming a trailblazer for women in the health field

Meet Dr. Sonali Sethi, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic, who is blazing trails for women, in the largely male-dominated health-field industry.

CLEVELAND — At the end of Women's History Month, 3News' Brianna Dahlquist met up with a trailblazer who is making sure that more women get the opportunity to work in the health field. 

Meet Dr. Sonali Sethi, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic, who is blazing trails for women in the largely male-dominated health-field industry.

"I have to say I started this field about 15 years ago, and there was a handful of women. There were only maybe five of us in the field, so it was very difficult for me to find a mentor at that time when I decided that this is what I wanted to do," said Sethi.

Nevertheless, Dr. Sethi persisted. Not only did she graduate at the top of her class during her fellowship at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York, but she also found mentors willing to help.

"I was very lucky. I had women pioneers that I latched onto and two, in particular, nationally, and I fell in love with this field, and I decided that's what I wanted to do."

And now, she's making it her mission to help other women by breaking barriers in pulmonology.

"We didn't realize there's a group of women, being only six or seven of us throughout the entire country, that this was a problem for women. There weren't enough of us, and then we need to advocate for ourselves, so there were a few of us got together and actually formed a group called the Women in Interventional Pulmonary and its national society. Now we are over 100 members. "

Colleague Dr. Thomas Gildea is the section head for pulmonology at the Cleveland Clinic.

He remembers a young Dr. Sethi just out of school and saw greatness within her.

"I work with amazing women, and when you're married to an amazingly brilliant woman…you just recognize people for their value, not necessarily based on gender."

He implores other men not to be afraid to advocate for women, not just in medicine, but all industries……he says more men might learn a thing or two.

"People will put you in a box in the world will assume that women don't do certain things, women don't do orthopedics, or women don't do surgical that's clearly not the case, and you know it's getting easier, and easier, and I hope that people avail themselves of the opportunity to just take a look around and recognize that there are people ahead of you remarkable things and they are there because they worked really hard."

Dr. Sethi says she doesn't know where she'd be without her mentors…

"I have been very lucky throughout my career, which is why I've gotten to where I thought it's solely because of the mentorship I had. That's what we all need to be doing, and so you know it's part of these organizations…."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on March 16, 2023.

Before You Leave, Check This Out