Monday, April 16, 2012

Why do women physicians choose a career in academic medicine?

I found an interesting article in Academic Medicine, the official, peer-reviewed journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The article was titled, "Women physicians: choosing a career in academic medicine."

My wife is a woman physician. She works in private practice, but she strongly considered a career in academic medicine.

Why do women choose a career in academic medicine? Here's what the researchers at Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University found:

For many women, choosing academic medicine was not necessarily an active, planned decision; rather, it was serendipitous or circumstantial.

Interesting, isn't it? Here are a few other key points from the abstract:

In 2010, the authors phone-interviewed women physicians in academic medicine regarding why, how, and when they chose academic medicine careers.

Through analyzing the transcripts of the 53 interviews, the investigators identified five themes related to why women choose careers in academic medicine: fit, aspects of the academic health center environment, people, exposure, and clinical medicine. They identified five themes related to how women make the decision to enter academic medicine: change in specialty, dissatisfaction with former career, emotionality, parental influence, and decision-making styles. The authors also identified four themes regarding when women decide to enter academic medicine: as a practicing physician, fellow, resident, or medical student.

Choosing a career in academic medicine is greatly influenced by the environment in which one trains and by people-be they faculty, mentors, role models, or family. An interest in teaching is a primary reason women choose a career in academic medicine. Many women physicians entering academic medicine chose to do so after or during fellowship, which is when they became more aware of academic medicine as a possible career.

You can read the abstract here.

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