I had just written a response to a partner’s email regarding outpatient coverage and the focus of work-life balance. I think it’s a great initiative that she is tackling while brainstorming what could help the group with flexibility as well as some normalcy while raising a family.
This made me think of changes to antiquated practices we currently have in our work environment… primarily, paid maternity leave as well as paid sick leave (neither of which my group has or supports). Many of my male colleagues can continue to work and can take as little or much leave as they would like for family bonding or vacation time to spend with their newborns. This is their option. Unfortunately, the women physicians in our group are not afforded that same luxury. There is a 6 week medical leave of absence with a vaginal delivery or an 8 week leave of absence with a C/S as proposed by the OBs. During this time, we are not paid. State disability is a joke bc it’s not even enough to cover a mortgage payment. Look at other large companies, there’s often paid leave or sick leave available to the employees. Therefore, women who choose to have kids while working as a physician in our group are penalized, especially if they are the breadwinner.
Not only that, even while off on medical leave, we are required to pay ridiculously high premiums to cover the wide age gap of partners in our practice. I would be happy to look elsewhere for my medical coverage, but I simply cannot come off our medical insurance plan.
Therefore, I propose there be a fund set aside to create a pool or trust for persons creating families (just as we do for our more distinguished and elderly physician population with our health insurance plans and exorbitant premiums) who will have families and work in our group.
Here are some examples in the news of what is and has been in the pipelines….
Here are examples of companies getting it right:
Please consider updating some or all of the policies for paid maternity leave. I am open to your thoughts and considerations.
Poll on Maternity Leave
What it’s like to be a female anesthesiologist…
Updated resources: March 10, 2019
Updated May 10, 2019
A must watch on Amazon Prime Video: The Milky Way
To promote the series #asawoman started by @nataliecrawfordmd (from Instagram)
Throughout medical school, residency, fellowship, even now in private practice… patients have often judged a book by its cover. They’ve thought I was their nurse, volunteer, high school student or college student shadowing, almost everything but the person who will lead their anesthetic care. While this can seem deflating given all the extra work and studies one puts in to become a physician, I’ve changed my mindset re: my patients’ initial thoughts on me.
First of all, thank goodness they think I’m super young! I have my mom’s genes and beautiful skin to thank!! At this rate, I hope I start to look 30 when I hit 50. When patients ask my age, I happily oblige them with a bold 39. Then I see a look of relief over their faces. I, of course, ask them how old they think I am….and I get the range of: just graduated college to mid-20s. Awesome!! I use it as a bonding moment and icebreaker with my patients. Sometimes with the right patient, I joke with them that it’s my first day… it usually entertains a good laugh. Then, I go into an overly technical schpeel on risks/benefits of anesthesia, expectations, PACU recovery. This typically solidifies to the patient that it’s not my first day on the job. Additionally, many patients tell me in the PACU that they feel better than their prior experience or better than their expectation and are quite grateful for my care.
There are a lot of men in my anesthesia group. Sometimes, after I introduce myself to the patient, they’re shocked that a woman anesthesiologist would be delivering their care. In this day and age, I’m shocked that a lot of patients still assume that a male physician will oversee their care. When caring for female patients with this mentality, I purposefully address a gentle and vigilant anesthetic plan. With my male patients with this mentality, often times they’re happy to talk about the “happy juice” cocktail they’ll get and some much deserved relaxation knowing that I will carry a watchful eye over their surgery and anesthetic.
Lastly, since becoming pregnant with my first and currently pregnant with my second… I feel I have a better understanding of the worried/concerned parents who are at the bedside to be with their child about to enter surgery. Oftentimes, the parents think I’m young and want to know where I trained and when I graduated. I offer them this info, and continue speaking to the patient (their child) about their concerns or questions. I make sure the parents know everything that will go on re: anesthetic plan, how the patient will feel in recovery and risks/benefits of anesthesia options. I TAKE MY TIME with the parents and the patient. While my age and gender often work against me (even though it shouldn’t!), I make sure the controllable worries by the parents are addressed. I speak to the parents after the surgery. They go into the recovery room and see their child (older than 13 at our hospital) comfortable and recovering. While I can’t change my appearance (nor would I want to…), I can change perceptions of women physicians. We are every bit as capable of everything our male colleagues can do. In addition, we tackle pregnancy, motherhood, businesses, and everything in between. #asawoman As A Woman, I feel more empowered now than ever before.
Women in Anesthesiology
American Medical Women’s Association
American College of Physicians: Women in Medicine
Bias, Bravery, and Burnout: The Journey of Women in Medicine