It is one of the most clear memories I have from early on in my career. Some friends were over and asked how long we had lived in our home. When I answered, my eldest, in the sincerest of voices proclaimed “Mom, that’s not true. Dad and I live here and you live at the hospital!” It’s pretty hilarious now but at the time I was crushed. CRUSHED. I remember the days in residency when I felt like I hadn’t been home in forever. Let’s be honest. Sometimes it still seems that way. Home in time to eat and sleep and then back up before everyone else and off to work.
September is designated as Women in Medicine month by the American Medical Association. One third of our nation’s physicians are women. Many of these women chose medicine as a career during a time when they had very few role models who were women. Many of them delayed starting their own families to learn to care for the families of their community. I have the privilege of training with, working with and knowing some incredible women physicians. These women spend many years training for a career in which they will give countless hours to improve the health of others. Most do it for a salary that is less than their male counterparts. They juggle rounding and homework and office visits and basketball practice and charting and so much more.
Women are under-represented in leadership in medicine; and a recent survey of physician mothers revealed that most women have felt discriminated against because of pregnancy, breastfeeding or motherhood. Does this make men at fault? Certainly not. But we work in systems that have long overlooked that its workforce is changing. Fortunately, physician moms are working to improve policies and procedures so the women that come into medicine after us have the opportunities to lead their communities to better health.
So here’s my shout out to women in medicine. You are some of the toughest, smartest, most caring and passionate women I know. You will change the future of health. And you are unstoppable.