Why I Joined TIME’S UP Healthcare and Why You Should, Too #TIMESUPHC

By  |  February 27, 2019 | 

This Friday, a group of 50 women leaders in all sectors of healthcare is launching a new movement to advocate for safe, dignified work for all workers across healthcare. Why did I join? Simply, I have come to realize that if nothing is done, nothing will happen. In fact, the World Economic Forum has stated in December that at current pace, it would take 200 years to ensure equity in pay for women. In a recent survey of women in healthcare, 16% of women thought it would NEVER happen. There are reasons to believe this, given that healthcare often fosters a hierarchical structure and a preference for the status quo.

Over 20 years ago, when I started medical school, we had gender equity in representation at the medical school level, but yet today, roughly 1 in 5 female faculty in our medical schools are professors. This is even more jarring, given the most recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges; 57% of Instructors, the entry level status of medical school faculty, are women. Only 11% of healthcare CEOs are women. Between 2001-2013, the rate of Full Professors in our nation’s medical schools moved less than 1% per year. Moreover, even with equal representation at the medical student level, nearly half of female medical students report sexual harassment. You would think newer fields would have a chance to get this right, but in hospital medicine, we clearly still see inequities. Clearly something is wrong.

Several years ago, I became what I call an “accidental advocate” for the gender pay gap and found myself on the cover of the electronic edition of The New York Times after writing the editorial for an infuriating JAMA IM paper about the gender pay gap where the authors (all male and all #heforshe) tried to control anything they could. The $20,000 pay gap would not go away, despite all the things they could control. What was interesting is there were some bright spots – places where there were no gender gaps. Clearly, culture matters. Moreover, these biases are cemented early and affect our trainees. Studies by our group and others have shown that females in male-dominated training specialties face a “likability penalty” for acting like a leader. This is starting as early as 2nd year of residency! So imagine what being a female leader is like. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, “When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.” While the likability penalty is sometimes debated, it clearly resonates.

In the wake of the entire #metoo movement and the #metoomedicine movement, we need to recognize that we are in a deeply entrenched hierarchical environment, and it is time for a movement to bring the needed change for our culture to change. Just like the “To Err is Human” report catalyzed the IHI’s 100,000 Lives Campaign and the needed change in event reporting culture in hospitals to promote safety, we need a similar campaign and movement to catalyze change to stamp out gender inequities and eliminate harassment. There is no time like the present and no group of leaders like this – some of the leading minds on the topic, like Drs. Julie Silver, Reshma Jagsi, Esther Choo, Dara Kass and many others are leading this charge. As we fight for equity for our patients, we deserve to promote these same principles for our colleagues. You can read more about the TIME’S UP Healthcare origin story here. That is why I joined TIME’S UP Healthcare, and that is why you should, too.

To learn more about how to join the movement, visit the website and follow @TIMESUPHC.

Also, come see me and others talk more about advancing gender equity in hospital medicine at Hospital Medicine 2019 – there are a number of can’t-miss sessions and a Women in Hospital Medicine Special Interest Forum that will inspire you to be a part of the solution.

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About the Author: Vineet Arora

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Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, MHM is Associate Chief Medical Officer, Clinical Learning Environment at University of Chicago Medicine and Assistant Dean for Scholarship and Discovery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Arora’s scholarly work has focused on resident duty hours, patient handoffs, sleep, and quality and safety of hospital care. She is the recipient of the SHM Excellence in Hospital Medicine Research Award in 2007. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including JAMA and the Annals of Internal Medicine, and has received coverage from the New York Times, CNN, and US News & World Report. She was selected as ACP Hospitalist Magazine’s Top Hospitalist in 2009 and by HealthLeaders Magazine as one of 20 who make healthcare better in 2011. She has testified to the Institute of Medicine on resident duty hours and to Congress about increasing medical student debt and the primary care crisis. As an academic hospitalist, she supervises medical residents and students caring for hospitalized patients. Dr. Arora is an avid social media user, and serves as Deputy Social Media Editor to the Journal of Hospital Medicine, helping to maintain its Twitter feed and Facebook presence. She blogs about her experiences at http://www.FutureDocsblog.com and actively tweets at @futuredocs.

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