How Gender Roles In The Hospital Can Negatively Impact Women Physicians Work and Pay

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We’re celebrating Women’s History Month with special blog content curated just for Women Physicians! Today, we’re diving into how some gender roles can negatively impact women physicians through both work and pay.

The healthcare industry landscape isn’t always equal, especially when looking through the lens of women and those belonging to minority groups in the industry. This bias, stereotyping, and discrimination can lead to lower pay, job dissatisfaction, and ultimately, burnout. 

Let’s take a closer look at the impact of gender roles in the hospital workplace, and how women physicians can overcome them.


The Unique Challenges Women Face In Medicine

70% of women physicians have reported gender-based discrimination in the workplace, according to a National Academy of Medicine study. And that may manifest in several ways, such as taking on additional responsibility without pay, lack of resources, and fewer promotions. 

Even though more women are entering medicine than ever before—women hold 70% of health worker jobs globally—healthcare industry leadership is still predominately male. This disparity occurs for those in patient care and academic medicine, where women physicians report a significant lack of funding and educational speaking opportunities.

The National Academy of Medicine also found that physicians with children experienced increased discrimination. 90% cited pregnancy and maternity leave as a primary source of conflict in the workplace.

Along with these many challenges, it’s been reported that women physicians earn less than their male counterparts from the moment they begin their careers. A Health Affairs study found that women physicians earn $2 million less over a 40-year career, and depending on your specialty, that number could be even higher.

This dynamic for women in medicine can culminate in higher levels of burnout, potentially causing them to be unable to perform at their best and leave healthcare altogether.

We worked with a female physician that found she wasn’t enjoying her work as a Pulmonary/Critical Care physician. So, she did something about it! She went back to fellowship and re-trained to be a radiologist, and she now loves her career. You can hear more of her story on our podcast.


Burnout For Women Physicians Is Real And Potentially Dangerous 

The pandemic caused many physicians and healthcare workers to flee the industry and it’s understandable. The increased demand and stress has led some female and male physicians alike to intense burnout, but female physicians are 60% more likely to experience burnout than male physicians.

Long story short, burnout is real (and dangerous). However, what constitutes burnout can differ between men and women physicians. Though there is an opportunity for additional research, several studies correlate women’s mistreatment in the workplace to early career departures. 

Think about it. Suppose you had to face pay inequities, unconscious bias, lack of leadership opportunities, child-bearing struggles, scarce mentorship, and gender discrimination on a daily basis. Would you remain in that field? Or would you search for something that valued you?

The U.S. is already experiencing a shortage of physicians—the projected shortage between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians within 12 years. And driving out talent isn’t good for the individual or society. The only way to advance medicine and better the health of our community is to support current and future physicians.

We worked with a woman physician on the west coast that was experiencing extreme burnout with her practice. One of her biggest challenges was that all of her adult children were living on the east coast. 

She’d initially assumed she’d retired from her practice on the west coast, but we helped her re-tool her financial plan so she didn’t have to stop working. 

With our guidance, she was able to find a job with a more manageable workload located closer to her children. She’s now 6 months into this new job, and while her pay isn’t as high as it was on the west coast, the change has made a big difference in her quality of life!


Suggestions on How Women Physicians Can Avoid Burnout And Build Fruitful Careers

To avoid burnout, we suggest women physicians be proactive and fully understand the value that they bring to the table. 

Pay inequity generally begins with your first job, so we see it as critical to negotiate for what you’re worth. We have training and guidance on how to do this when you’re just starting out and later on! There are a few golden rules of physician contract negotiation that you should consider before going to the negotiation table:

  1. Almost everything is negotiable: This includes salary, performance bonus, PTO, sick days, flexible work arrangements, sign-on bonus, or a parental leave plan. 
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare: A key driver of your success in a negotiation is how well you prepare for it. Do the research and ask questions along the way so that you are confident enough to advocate for yourself. Role playing the conversation with a trusted advisor or family member can be beneficial as well.
  3. The worst they can say is no: If your mind always goes to “worst case scenario” know that the worst a potential employer can say is no. And if that results in you searching for another position that values you, know that you will most likely reap the rewards in the long run.
  4. Know your value: What sets you apart from the pool of other applicants? Do you have impeccable product numbers? Is your specialization rare? Know what your key differentiator is. 

Another tip: don’t take on more than you can (or want to) handle. Avoid assuming extra responsibilities that aren’t compensated and don’t align with your career growth.

We believe preparation is critical to avoiding burnout. Creating a financial plan that supports your life plan and goals can bring you peace of mind and confidence as you advance in your career. Whether you want to start a family, work part-time, or go for a promotion, we can help you build an investment, risk management, and cash flow plan that gives you confidence, clarity, and control over your money. 

Another great way to battle burnout is to find something outside of work that fills your cup. One of our clients is a doctor that has battled the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines. This added a great deal of stress to her life. 

Moving wasn’t an option for her, but she shared with us that she had always wanted to learn to ride horses. So, she bought a horse, got a riding instructor, and now spends time outside of the hospital with her horse doing something she loves. She shared with us that this has been her outlet that restores her so she can continue to enjoy and do her job well.

Remember, building wealth should give you more options in your personal and professional life, and we want to help you open the doors that matter to you. 


Work With A Team Of Specialists 

You trust your health to your peers, and it can be an immense weight off your shoulders to entrust your money with a thoughtful, supportive partner. 

We’ve created a unique system for women physicians that addresses their needs and helps them unlock financial independence by reviewing the monetary value of their productivity. If you need to be compensated correctly for all your work, we can help give you the tools to negotiate effectively and help prove your worth. 

Join us in building the future for women physicians everywhere—get in touch with our team.


Investment advisory services offered through Vestia Personal Wealth Advisors, Vestia Retirement Plan Consultants, and Vestia Advisors, LLC. Securities offered through Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc., 5187 Utica Ridge Rd, Davenport, IA. 52807 (563)326-2064. Member FINRA/SIPC. Vestia Personal Wealth Advisors, Vestia Retirement Plan Consultants, Vestia Advisors, LLC, and Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. are independently owned and operated.

This material is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal or tax advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor.  This information is not an offer or a solicitation to buy or sell securities.  The information contained may have been compiled from third-party sources and is believed to be reliable. All investing involves risk, including the loss of principal.

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