By Sherry L. Blumenthal MD, MSEd., FACOG
I am excited that the Pennsylvania Medical Society's Women Physician Caucus private Group Facebook group is launching this week. We invite comments from members of the Women Physicians Caucus about issues relating to being a woman and practicing medicine, personal experiences, challenges, priorities, and suggestions for topics which need to be addressed and shared.
For all of us there is the issue of gender discrimination, whether we perceive it or not. We know there is a wage discrepancy, an under-representation of women in leadership positions, and bias in research studies. We also note that legislators seem to believe that they have the right to regulate our health care choices.
We are unique – we give birth and this affects our career and life choices. Many women state that their first dilemma is how to establish a work-life balance. Based on experiences of colleagues over many years, many employers or private groups hesitate to hire us or advance us in leadership, knowing that we will need time off for childbirth and childcare.
Women physicians should have the same rights as men. PAMED began the Women Physicians Caucus, chaired by Sherry Boumenthal, MD, to explore how to close gender gaps in medicine by advocating for PAMED policies on issues impacting women physicians.
Sometimes they fail to realize that they would not be parents without us and that we bring a rich, unique perspective to medical practice due to our reproductive experiences.
It is also imperative that women have the right to decide when or if to bear children. This control is key to our ability to advance and pursue our careers in medicine.
This is not a challenge that impacts men in the same way. Men, however, are becoming more interested in work-family balance and wish to have time to experience their children's development also.
The previous paradigm, that physicians work long hours and have supportive wives at home raising the children, maintaining the household, and having dinner on the table when they get home, is no longer the norm, nor should it be. I would have loved a "wife" at home taking care of all of the household duties, but still have time for interaction with my son and participation in his activities!
We will have women physician leaders commenting on their struggles and how they managed to achieve their positions. We hope to present tactics for achieving wage parity.
We need to empower women to pursue the specialty which interests them most, not to choose a career path because it is compatible with raising children and work to change the specialties' perceptions so they accommodate our differences.
We need to establish a network of mentors for younger physicians, residents, and medical students, and welcome volunteers in every specialty to help us. We need effective opportunities for networking, both electronically and in person.
For those interested in pursuing leadership opportunities, PAMED has a Leadership Academy. You can learn more about the Year Round Leadership Academy by clicking here. The scholarship deadline is June 30, 2017, so get your application done if you are interested.
Stay tuned for more! Participate! If you are not at the table, you may be on the menu.
Sherry L. Blumenthal is a retired partner of Womencare OB/GYN, and Chair of the Women Physician's Caucus. She is the Obstetric Trustee on the Board of Trustees of PAMED, a Board member of the Montgomery County Medical Society, past-chair of the PA Section of ACOG, on the Advisory Committee of District III of ACOG, and a Council member of the Philadelphia Obstetric Society. She is the proud mom of Scott, 43, and grandmother of Miles, 12, and Julian, 9.