ITASCA, IL. – As more female physicians enter the workforce, they face persistent challenges that can lead to burnout, including pay inequities, discrimination and an imbalance between responsibilities at work and home.
To tackle those issues, six leading medical organizations have formed a partnership that brings together early- to mid-career female physicians for networking, mentorship and leadership training.
The Women's Wellness through Equity and Leadership project (WEL) is led by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the American Hospital Association (AHA).
"This is a tremendously exciting opportunity," said Fan Tait, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer for the AAP. "We will look at the culture of medicine, and how it impacts physicians' wellness and resilience. Each member of our coalition brings its own expertise, and together, the expertise from these six major medical groups is significant."
Over the next 18 months, a cohort consisting of three female physicians from each organization will participate in webinars and meetings to explore the topics of wellness, equity and leadership. They will learn leadership skills, identify and discuss a set of principles for equitable and productive work environments, and form relationships with mentors. At the AAP, for example, leaders selected three members out of more than 200 applicants who applied to participate in the cohort.
The WEL collaborative is led by a steering committee composed of representatives from the six participating medical associations. This group plans to continue collaborating around leadership and gender equity in medicine to help foster long-term change.
In 2017, more women than men enrolled in U.S. medical schools, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. In 2018, as in previous years, a higher percent of female physicians (48 percent) reported burnout, compared with 38 percent of male physicians, according to a Medscape National Physician and Burnout Report.
The Women's Wellness project will focus on identifying the incidence and causes for burnout in female physicians and determine effective interventions that can be used at every stage of professional development, work setting and specialty. With an emphasis on data-driven and evidence-based approaches, the leaders will identify programs that address burnout and enhance career satisfaction.
""This is important work, and an amazing chance to work with dynamic and emerging new leaders," Dr. Tait said. "We expect their work will impact the broader medical community in the years ahead."
A $150,000 grant to fund the project was provided by The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and improving healthcare delivery.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. www.aap.org.
American Academy of Family Physicians
"From salaries and resources, to leadership opportunities, we know that female physicians experience inequities, and it's time to change that. Our partnership will not only identify those inequities but will create a plan to address them. Together, we will have a meaningful impact on the health workforce landscape." - Clif Knight, MD, FAAFP, senior vice president of education at AAFP.
Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 131,400 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. www.aafp.org/home.html
American College of Physicians
"The American College of Physicians is excited to be a partner on this important initiative that will help improve well-being and equity for women in medicine. The participants bring a much-needed energy and perspective to these issues and I look forward seeing how their leadership positively impacts the future." - Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, MACP, Immediate Past Chair, Board of Regents, American College of Physicians
ACP is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States and membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. www.acponline.org/
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
"The nation's ob-gyns are honored to be part of the important work addressing wellness, leadership and equity for women physicians. As the specialty with the highest percentage of female physicians, it's essential for ACOG to be part of the solutions promoting leadership and resilience and addressing burnout and workplace inequity in medicine. The Women's Wellness through Equity and Leadership project (WEL) work will have a meaningful impact on our specialty, the broader medical community and patient care." - interim CEO and Executive Vice President of ACOG, Lisa M. Hollier, MD, MPH
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care. www.acog.org
American Hospital Association
"We are thrilled to be an inaugural partner in this work to support female physicians who make dynamic contributions to our health systems and patients. We know that no single solution will address burnout and build resilience. But by coming together and taking action under the Women's Wellness through Equity and Leadership project, we will be able to work on evidence-based solutions and provide meaningful resources to female physicians who are playing an important role in shaping health care delivery that patients and families can be proud of." – Jay Bhatt, AHA senior vice president and chief medical officer.
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. www.aha.org.
American Psychiatric Association (APA):
"Physician wellness and prevention of burnout is a major initiative of the American Psychiatric Association. This partnership helps us address our previous work in this arena while simultaneously providing training to our new female physician leaders. By combining our efforts, this partnership will be able to be much more effective in achieving our goals. In the end, it will be our patients who will benefit." - APA President Altha Stewart, M.D.
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,500 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.