Celebrating Women’s History Month

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Key Insights

  • Women’s History Month celebrates women’s achievements and contributions to society, culture, and history
  • Studies show that patients treated by female physicians are more likely to have better health outcomes
  • In 2019, for the first time, women accounted for most medical students

Women’s History Month is the national observance of women’s often-overlooked accomplishments and contributions to history, society, and culture. What began as a week of presentations, poetry contests, and downtown parades in Sonoma, California, in 1978 has since grown into a nationwide celebration.

In 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 to be National Women’s History Week in his first presidential proclamation. Congress made the week an official national celebration in 1981, but expanded it to the entire month in 1987 when they received a petition from the National Women’s History Project.

This year’s theme, “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” recognizes the tireless efforts of women frontline workers and caregivers, celebrating women across all cultures who have “provided both healing and hope throughout history.” The following data around health outcomes and the physician landscape help highlight the hope and healing that women impart to healthcare.

Study: Female Physicians Provide Great Patient Care

A study of Medicare hospital admissions published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that patients under the care of female hospitalists were less likely to end up in the hospital or be readmitted for conditions like sepsis, pneumonia, acute renal failure, and arrhythmia. Researchers suggest these improved results stem from female providers’ use of evidence-based care, thorough examinations, and patient-centered approach. Female physicians’ robust, patient-focused, evidence-based practices have helped save many patients from potentially adverse outcomes. Besides these promising findings, data shows that the number of women in medical practice is rising.

The Growth of Women in Healthcare

We’ve come a long way in gender diversity since trailblazing women like Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, and Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD, became the first woman and Black woman, respectively, to earn medical degrees. According to a 2020 survey, women hold three-quarters of all U.S. healthcare positions and have driven 80 percent of the industry’s growth since the 2000s.

During the past two decades, the number of women has doubled in areas such as dentistry and optometry. Women account for the majority of midwives, dental and medical assistants, veterinarians, pharmacists, and speech pathologists. According to a survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), 2019 was the first year that female medical students outnumbered their male counterparts. If this trend continues, women may one day represent more than half of the physician workforce as well.

Supporting Women in Medicine

Research by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that 36.7 percent female physicians own their practice. Conversely, 48.1 percent of male physicians own their practice. This data highlights a gender disparity among independent physicians.

It is therefore critical for the industry to support female physicians who want to own and operate medical practice. As Sonal Patel, MD, wrote in her candid, inspiring article for the AMA: “Support from a partnership allowed me to actualize the vision of autonomy that led me to start a private practice. By not doing this on my own, I had more independence to focus on what mattered most to me—delivering the highest-quality neurological care to my patients in the way that I want to.” Robust physician enablement can help female physicians like Dr. Patel accomplish their goals of independent practice.

We’re proud to support female physicians across all healthcare settings and grateful for the excellent care they provide to patients. We meet physicians where they are and help them make the transition to value-based care. We’re grateful for the opportunity to support female physicians and their love of practicing medicine!

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