Vital Times 2017 - 74

Is it because many of us still get mistaken for nurses, even
after repeatedly introducing ourselves as Doctor? Or, if
you are a woman of color, because people may presume
you are a nurses' aide or housekeeper? I still chuckle
at the memory of the time I was talking to a family
post-operatively about how their child fared during the
anesthetic, while another family kept insistently trying to
get me to clean up some vomit in a nearby trash can! Ah...
good times.

One thing that I have learned from the PAMG and WIA
groups is that success and leadership come in many
different sizes and forms. Just because a person chooses
to cut back hours, or work part-time for a while, that does
not eliminate the prospect of leadership opportunities
or academic success. It is not all or nothing. It may take
some people longer to achieve "success", but they will
accrue other rewards and have different adventures along
the way. Everyone should feel supported in their choices.

A recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal
reported on the results of a survey, taken in the University
of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Anesthesiology,
showing that the work environment for women there is
still challenging. Women were often given less desirable
assignments, less responsibility, and fewer leadership
opportunities. Women anesthesiologists at the Children's
Hospital, though a larger number occupied leadership
roles, were "infantilized", the report said. This article was
posted widely on women physicians' Facebook groups,
and created a great deal of conversation and controversy.
Many agreed that the findings applied to their practices,
while others were grateful to have leadership that is more
forward-thinking and supportive.

We all need good mentors, sponsors, advisors, and
friends. This is true for all genders, but often much harder
for women to find. We in California are incredibly lucky
in that we have many outstanding men and women
in leadership roles. For young physicians looking for
leadership opportunities, looking outside your group,
institution or practice can be extremely rewarding and
effective. The CSA leadership has both male and female
role models. As a junior faculty or newly practicing
anesthesiologist, if there are no mentors/advisors/
supporters in your home institutions, look elsewhere.
Get involved with other organizations; volunteer to
help with your local CSA districts or a CSA committee.
Complete your tasks well and in a timely manner, then
volunteer for more. In medicine, we rarely encounter
the same kind of harassment or assault that people in
big business, politics, or the entertainment world may
face. Our path to success is often as simple as showing
up, working hard, being reliable, and making the most of
opportunities.

The popularity and explosion of the Physicians Mom's
Group, Physician Anesthesiology Mom's Group
(PAMG) on Facebook, and Women in Anesthesiology
(WIA) Committees have helped fill voids that most of
us knew existed, but didn't know how to correct. Studies
from the business world have shown the benefits of
having women as part of product design and marketing
groups. There are several studies in medicine showing
that women physicians (both surgeons and internists)
have better outcomes and lower mortality rates than
their male colleagues. Despite this, if a female surgeon
has a bad outcome, it has a profound negative effect on
her subsequent referrals from other physicians, and also
lowers the chance that those physicians will ever make a
referral to another female surgeon!
We've got a long way to go, baby.

74 		|	 	 CSA	Vital	Times

As the motto from my son's high school
says, "We are all in this together." Let's
start acting that way.
With thanks to Dr. Karen Sibert for her
help and expert editing.



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https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/csvt/vital-times-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/csvt/2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/csvt/2019
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https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/csvt/2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/csvt/2015
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