How the Rise of Women Physicians Impacts your Healthcare Organization

Posted on April 14, 2023 by Penelope Hsu, MD

Updated April 14, 2023

In the midst of all that’s going on in medicine today—from post-pandemic recovery to staffing shortages to the rancorous politicization of health issues, there’s one trend that’s receiving less attention but is every bit as significant.

For the first time in our history, there are now more women than men in medical school, and we’re looking at a time in the near future when the profession will be majority-female.

Given that practitioners of all genders are struggling with mental and emotional health challenges—overwork, burnout, moral injury, and more—it’s time for leaders and colleagues to understand that female physicians bear different burdens that affect their well-being. 

They’re too often not accorded the respect they deserve. They tend to earn less than male colleagues with comparable skills and experience. If they are mothers, they’re often bearing much of the burden of child care while practicing medicine and doing their best to advance their careers. And because they are very thinly represented at the leadership level, institutional practices and policies often fail to reflect their needs and goals.

In a compelling essay, pediatrician and peer coach Penelope Hsu, MD takes a close look at the professional dilemmas and desires of women practitioners. Citing recent research on this burgeoning cohort of physicians and adding insights gained from her own experience, Hsu makes a compelling case: if leaders want their organizations to thrive moving forward, they need to grasp, and act on, the needs of the people who represent the future of medicine.

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