Despite Large Numbers of Female Gynecologic Surgeons, Gender Disparities and Harassment Persist

MedicalResearch.com – Responses

Marina Stasenko, MD Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Stasenko
Photo: MSKCC

Marina Stasenko, MD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that includes gender harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion. A recent report in Fortune magazine noted that over half of US women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Until recently, much of the conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace has been relegated to private discussions behind closed doors. However, the MeToo movement has shined a spotlight on the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in various fields, like media and business world. Although there are more female physicians in practice today than ever before, with women accounting for over 50% of young physicians, sexual harassment and gender disparities continue to plague the field of medicine.

Despite the large female representation, gynecologic oncology is not immune from gender disparities. The Society of Gynecologic Oncology is a professional organization of over 2000 physicians, scientists, allied health professionals, nurses, and patient advocates dedicated to the care of patients with gynecologic cancer. As of 2015, 46% of members of the SGO were women, and that number is steadily growing. SGO leadership is also increasingly female – with 2 of the last 3 presidents being women.

Despite the large female representation, gynecologic oncology is not immune from gender disparities. The 2015 SGO practice survey noted that while 22% of male Gynecologic Oncologists held the rank of professor, only 11% of their female counterparts held the title. They also noted that the mean annual salary for male physicians was nearly 150,000$ greater than salary for female physicians.

Given the fact that there is little objective data on sexual harassment in gynecologic oncology, the objective of our study was to evaluate perceptions of sexual harassment and gender disparities among physician members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

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Neurology Residents Learn to Identify Physician Burnout Through Simulation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rebecca Stainman
Dr. Arielle Kurzweil MD
Adult Neurology Program Director
New York University School of Medicine
NYU Langone Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Physician burnout is prevalent. Neurologists have among the highest burnout rates, ranked third among specialties in a 2011 study, and over half of US Neurologists report at least 1 symptom of burnout in a 2016 survey.  Efforts to address burnout in training programs have mostly been aimed at implementing wellness curricula and offering mental health resources.

Training neurology residents to effectively identify, address, and help impaired colleagues is equally crucial in these efforts, yet there is a paucity of literature on this topic. We used simulation as a means of addressing this topic, via identifying and addressing an impaired colleague through an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).  Continue reading

Medical Interns Spend 87 percent of Their Work Time Away From Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHPAssistant Professor , Medicine, Perelman School of MedicineClinical Innovation Manager, Penn's Center for Health Care InnovationPerelman School of MedicineMedical Director, Penn Medicine's FirstCall Virtual Care

Dr. Chaiyachati

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP
Assistant Professor
Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine
Clinical Innovation Manager
Penn’s Center for Health Care Innovation
Perelman School of Medicine
Medical Director, Penn Medicine’s FirstCall Virtual Care  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The United States spends more than $12 billion annually on training young doctors who have rates of burnout and depression at an alarmingly high rate. Yet, we have limited evidence as to what they are doing while training in the hospital. We sought to glimpse into how their day is spent. In the largest study to date, we observed 80 first-year internal medicine physicians (“interns”) for nearly 2200 hours across 194 work shifts at 6 different sites. Our research sought to understand what medical residents did by categorizing training activities into themes such as time spent in education or patient care.  Continue reading

Home Responsibilities Encourage Physician Mothers in Procedural Specialties To Consider Career Change

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nelya Melnitchouk, MD,MScDirector, Program in Peritoneal Surface Malignancy, HIPECDr. Melnitchouk is an associate surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) and instructor of surgery at Harvard Medical Schoo

Dr. Melnitchouk

Nelya Melnitchouk, MD,MSc
Director, Program in Peritoneal Surface Malignancy, HIPEC
Dr. Melnitchouk is an associate surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) and
instructor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Current literature on women in surgery show that female physicians, particularly those in procedural specialties, face many challenges in balancing responsibilities between work and home. We hypothesized that these challenges may affect career satisfaction more negatively for physician mothers in procedural specialties than those in nonprocedural specialties.

In our study, we found that physician mothers in procedural specialties who had more domestic responsibilities were more likely to report a desire to change careers than those in nonprocedural specialties.  Continue reading

Formal Education Not Enough To Teach Effective Patient Handoffs Among Medical Residents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nicholas A. Rattray, Ph.D.Research Scientist/InvestigatorVA HSR&D Center for Health Information and CommunicationImplementation Core, Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERIRichard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical CenterIndiana University Center for Health Services & Outcomes ResearchRegenstrief Institute, Inc.Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Rattray

Nicholas A. Rattray, Ph.D.
Research Scientist/Investigator
VA HSR&D Center for Health Information and Communication
Implementation Core, Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERI
Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Indiana University Center for Health Services & Outcomes Research
Regenstrief Institute, Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana


on behalf of study co-authors re:
Rattray NA, Flanagan ME, Militello LG, Barach P, Franks Z, Ebright P, Rehman SU,
Gordon HS, Frankel RM

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: End-of-shift handoffs pose a substantial patient safety risk. The transition of care from one doctor to another has been associated with delays in diagnosis and treatment, duplication of tests or treatment and patient discomfort, inappropriate care, medication errors and longer hospital stays with more laboratory testing. Handoff education varies widely in medical schools and residency training programs. Although there have been efforts to improve transfers of care, they have not shown meaningful improvement.

Led for the last decade by Richard Frankel, Ph.D., a senior health scientist at Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, our team has studied how health practitioners communicate during end-of-shift handoffs. In this current study, funded by VA Health Services and Research Development, we conducted interviews with 35 internal medicine and surgery residents at three VA medical centers about a recent handoff and analyzed the responses. Our team also video-recorded and analyzed more than 150 handoffs.

Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, this study explains how the person receiving the handoff can affect the interaction. Medical residents said they changed their delivery based on the doctor or resident who was taking over (i.e., training level, preference for fewer details, day or night shift). We found that handoff communication involves a complex combination of socio-technical information where residents balance relational factors against content and risk. It is not a mechanistic process of merely transferring clinical data but rather is based on learned habits of communication that are context-sensitive and variable, what we refer to as “recipient design”.

In another paper led by Laura Militello, we focus on how residents cognitively prepare for handoffs. In the paper published in The Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety®, researchers detailed the tasks involved in cognitively preparing for handoffs. A third paper, published in BMC Medical Education, reports on the limited training that physicians receive during their residency. Residents said they were only partially prepared for enacting handoffs as interns, and clinical experience and enacting handoffs actually taught them the most.

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More Lab Tests Ordered At Teaching vs Non-Teaching Hospitals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Victoria Valencia, MPH Assistant Director for Healthcare Value Dell Medical SchoolThe University of Texas at Austin

Victoria Valencia

Victoria Valencia, MPH
Assistant Director for Healthcare Value
Dell Medical SchoolThe University of Texas at Austin

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We were surprised to find that despite the common anecdote that resident physicians in teaching environments order more lab tests, there was a lack of empirical data to support the claim that more lab tests are ordered for patients at teaching hospitals than at non-teaching hospitals. Our study of 43,329 patients with pneumonia or cellulitis across 96 hospitals  in the state of Texas found that major teaching hospitals order significantly more lab tests than non-teaching hospitals.  We found this to be true no matter how we looked at the data, including when restricting to the least sick patients in our dataset. We also found that major teaching hospitals that ordered more labs for pneumonia tended to also more labs for cellulitis, indicating there is some effect from the environment of the teaching hospital that affects lab ordering overall.

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Study Compares Appendectomy Outcomes Between General Surgeons and Surgical Residents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Haggi Mazeh, MD, FACS
Endocrine and General Surgery
Department of Surgery
Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, Israel 91240

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The level of operating room autonomy given to surgical residents varies greatly between different institutions and different countries. On one hand, providing residents the opportunity to operate alone augments their confidence and their sense of responsibility, possibly accelerating their learning process. On the other hand, it may be argued that the presence of a senior general surgeon in every operation is a safer approach.

Before 2012, a large proportion of appendectomies at our institution were performed by surgical residents alone. After 2012, our institutional policy changed to require the presence of a senior general surgeon in every appendectomy case. This unique situation provided us the opportunity to compare the outcomes of appendectomies performed by residents alone to those performed in the presence of a senior general surgeon.

Our study demonstrated no difference in the complication rates between the two groups of patients. However, surgeries performed in the presence of senior general surgeons were significantly shorter than those performed by residents.

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Recommended Medical Handoff Strategies Remain Underutilized

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine University of California, San Francisco | Department of Medicine San Francisco VA Medical Center

Dr. Charlie Wray

Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine
San Francisco VA Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Since the establishment of residency duty hour regulations in 2010, which subsequently lead to increased discontinuity of inpatient care and more resident shift work, educators and researchers have attempted to establish which shift handoff technique(s) or strategies work best.

National organizations, such as the ACGME, AHRQ, and the Joint Commission have made specific recommendations that are considered “best practice”. In our study, using an annual national survey given to Internal Medicine Program Directors, we examined the degree of implementation of these recommended handoff strategies and the proportion of Program Director satisfaction with each of the respective strategies.

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