Women surgeons want more flexibility with schedules, child care
Both men and women said they are happy with their career choices, but more women wanted part-time options, a new report says.
By Susan J. Landers, AMNews staff. Posted Aug. 5.
Although male and female surgeons say
they are satisfied with their career choice, women would prefer more
flexibility in work schedules and more on-site child care facilities,
according to a national survey of 895 surgeons.
The survey found that 83% of women and 78% of men who responded said
they were well-satisfied with their careers and would choose surgery as
a profession again.
But female surgeons were far more likely than male surgeons to
postpone having children or not have children at all, according to the
survey in the July Archives of Surgery (archsurg.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/144/7/635/).
Significantly more men (55%) than women (33%) disagreed with the
survey statement that surgeons should have more part-time work
opportunities with call cross-coverage by other surgeons, survey
authors noted. Also, 87% of women versus 70% of men said child care
should be available at work.
Surgery traditionally has been one of the most male-dominated
specialties in medicine -- only about 14% of surgeons are women. But
discussions about workplace changes that could encourage women to
choose surgical careers are beginning, said lead author Kathrin
Troppmann, MD, a gastrointestinal and laparoscopic surgeon, and
associate professor at the University of California, Davis.
Dr. Troppmann, who has two children, said her own life is a
balancing act. She is helped at home by her husband, who also is a
surgeon, and at work by a supportive department chair.
"I definitely think you have the ability to fine-tune your practice," she said.
For instance, women interested in surgical careers could consider
subspecialties with regular work hours, Dr. Troppmann said. A breast
surgeon would not likely receive emergency calls, while a vascular
surgeon would. The survey showed that 20% of women compared with 1% of
men specialize in breast surgery.