Viewpoint: Female physicians, it's OK to act differently than men

Female physicians often hide unique characteristics that distinguish them from male colleagues, conforming to "an antiquated stereotype of what it means to be a physician," Nisha Mehta, MD, a radiologist in Charlotte, N.C., wrote in an op-ed for Medscape.

Dr. Mehta outlined numerous examples of what this looks like in real-world healthcare settings. She said many female physicians don't speak about their children or wear fashionable jewelry at work. They often feel like they'll be perceived as difficult if they advocate for themselves or raise a complaint. They also worry that asking for time off or part-time schedules will make people think they aren't serious about their careers.

"Being a female physician has its own challenges, and we've got enough glass ceilings to shatter without having to worry about having to conform to stereotypes," Dr. Mehta wrote. "We shouldn't be afraid to be who we are, or worry that others will take us less seriously if we do something feminine."

These types of differences help make physicians who they are and should be acknowledged as important aspects of medicine, Dr. Mehta added. She said that female physicians are ideal candidates to push for more humanism and work flexibility in medicine, especially amid a highly diverse physician workforce and high rates of burnout.

"Ultimately, the best thing that we can do for our patients is to be ourselves, draw on our strengths and practice medicine for as long as possible," Dr. Mehta concluded. "That requires embracing our respective demographics and the realities that come with them."

To view the full op-ed, click here.

More articles on integration and physician issues:
HCA Healthcare facing physician staffing concerns at North Carolina facility
11 ways physicians cope with burnout
It's time to address gender inequities in academic medicine, AAMC says

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