If you're a man, you don't think about quitting residency: Study

Just three per cent of men worry about about training opportunities, compared to almost 50 per cent of women.

Diana Duong 2 minute read August 17, 2020
Surgical Team Working In Operating Theatre Wearing Protective Clothing

Both female residents and female residents who identified as visible minority described significant concerns about receiving fewer training opportunities because of their gender versus their male peers. Getty Images

Gender and racial/ethnic biases are creating inequalities for Canada’s medical residents during their surgical training, says new research from the University of Alberta.

In a new study published in JAMA Surgery, researchers surveyed 210 general surgery residents, all of whom were mostly younger than 30 years old. Compared with Caucasian men, women of visible minorities (non-white and non-Indigenous) were much less likely to report that they have a collegial relationship with staff, to feel like they fit in at their program, and to feel valued at work.

Across all racial groups, only three per cent of men expressed concern about training opportunities because of their gender, compared to 48 per cent of women who said the same.

Female visible minority residents were also the highest group to strongly agree with “I have thoughts about quitting residency” (six per cent), compared to Caucasian male residents (zero per cent).

A significant 42 per cent of female residents of a visible minority reported they strongly agreed with the statement, “I am called doctor less than other residents,” compared to only 1.5 per cent of Caucasian males

The vast majority of the female residents surveyed reported feeling like their medical expertise was dismissed at least once a year (81 per cent) because of their gender, compared to 98 per cent of men who reported never having felt that way. Female residents overall were much more concerned about maternity or paternity leave being accepted amongst their attending surgeons than their male counterparts.

In order to overcome these barriers, the study authors say training programs, accrediting bodies, and the medical community needs to develop strategies with to focus on the intersectionality of gender and race/ethnicity to improve the training experience of at-risk residents.

This includes, first, acknowledging these biases and barriers exist for female and visible minorities. Having strong mentorship networks can help promote diversity in medical students, and ensuring transparency in recruiting practices, which includes a diverse panel of evaluators, and equal opportunities for parental leave, childcare, and career advancement for all residents — regardless of gender or ethnicity — will help foster a culture of equality.

dduong@postmedia.com | @dianaduo

Don’t miss the latest on COVID-19, reopening and life. Subscribe to Healthing’s daily newsletter Coming Out of COVID.