Women in Medicine Week

The KUMC Association of Women Surgeons, OB-GYN, and American Medical Women’s Association student interest groups hosted the first annual Women in Medicine Week from September 28th, 2020 – October 2nd, 2020. Programming featured women speakers from across all areas of medicine, and included a donation drive for Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter and resource here in Kansas City. Below is a feature from many of the speakers from the week that included discussions on Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Racial Disparities in OB/GYN, Women in Research, and more. All events were recorded and are available to watch at http://www.kumc.edu/women-in-medicine-week.

The Sane Journey Connection with Morgan Stebens, MSN-FN, RN, SANE-A
The patient perspective before, during, and after sexual assault and how providers play a significant role in that journey.

“We don’t blame the victim. If someone gets pickpocketed, we don’t ask what pants they were wearing to allow them to be pickpocketed. It’s offender focused, and the same should be true for sexual assault.”

“The patient comes second; you come first. It’s hard to care for other people if you don’t care for yourself first.”

Changing the Culture of Sexual Misconduct in Healthcare with Natalie Holick, Chief Compliance Officer, Institution Title IX Coordinator

31.3% of undergrad and 19.9% of graduate women reported experiencing sexual harassment as a student.

58% of surgeons who are women report experiencing sexual harassment in the last 12 months. 

Female medical students are 220% more likely than non-STEM students to experience sexual harassment.

1 in 4 physicians report being sexually harassed by patients in the last three years.

So, how do we change the culture?
1. Be aware and recognize behavior.
2. Consider responsibility, opportunity, and risks.
3. Intervene safely.
4. Report, follow up, educate, and prevent. 

Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Gynecologic Cancers with Andrea Jewell, M.D. (OB/GYN)

“Black women experience over 50% more unintended pregnancies compared with white women, and those at risk are more likely not to be using any contraception and are less likely to be using the most effective contraceptive methods.”

“Black women in the US from 2006 – 2010 were 3x more likely to die a pregnancy-related death than white and hispanic women. They accounted for 14.6% of live births, but 35.5% of pregnancy-related deaths.” 

“While there is a similar incidence of cervical cancer in black compared to white patients, black women are diagnosed with higher stage disease as compared to other racial and ethnic groups and mortality for black women with cervical cancer is twice that for white women.”

“Black women have a lower incidence of uterine cancer compared to white women, but they have an 80% higher mortality rate; the more aggressive subtypes are more common in black women.”

“Black women also have a lower incidence of ovarian cancer compared to white women, but while survival for white women has improved over time, survival for black women has actually worsened in the same period.”

How can we reduce these disparities?
1. Improve access to care specifically to high volume hospitals + providers, increase insurance coverage, transportation and childcare options.
2. Address cultural factors combat provider bias, patient distrust/communication.
3. Increase research with minority recruitment – look into race-specific genetic alterations to improve screening and treatment options.

Women in Research Panel
Featuring women in various areas of research in medicine (PT, MD/MPH, PhD, DNP, Biotech) 

“The work that you put in – planning, thinking of opportunities, asking mentors – puts you where the good luck can find you.” – Dr. Sandra Billinger

“I would call out all women to start <strong>framing ourselves in a positive way.” – Dr. Amy Garcia

“Diversity comes in many ways, and one of the hardest way is learning to recognize people who challenge how you think.” – Dr. Amy Garcia

“Recognize and take advantage of appropriate opportunities. Carefully consider and then accept opportunities.” – Dr. Michelle Pritchard

“Working together elevates everyone’s science by leveraging different experiences and perspectives.” – Dr. Michelle Pritchard

“Avoid the comfortable, [because] once you feel comfortable you’re not moving forward – use that to pursue your good and novel ideas relentlessly and never give up.” – Dr. Michelle Pritchard

“It’s not enough to advocate for others – you have to advocate for yourself, too.” – Dr. Lisa Stehno-Bittel

“If you’re passionate and intelligent there will be opportunities for you your entire life.” – Dr. Lisa Stehno-Bittel

Women in Medicine Panel 

Open Discussion of topics such as gender inequality, women mentors, and what it’s like being a woman in the medical field.

“We can only provide great care for patients when we are whole, not when we are trying to live two lives and do two separate things – that is one of the keys to burnout. The answer starts with a lot of self-reflection, sitting in the situation you’re in, acknowledging your feelings, your fears, your guilt, your discomfort – and then utilizing the facts for what you need to do to get through the next stage of your life.” – Dr. Carrie Francis (Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery)

“It never really occurred to me that being a woman in medicine was different from being a man in medicine until the idea of sexism in medicine became more of a ‘hot topic’. I always knew I was going to have to work harder, but that’s wasn’t new to me because I always knew I wanted to go into medicine. At this point, I have a big responsibility in ensuring the pathway for the people who come after me and making sure it’s better than when I got here.” – Dr. Stepheny Berry (Trauma Surgery)

“I see healthcare disparities whether in maternal mortality or access to reproductive medicine for patients, so I think as time has gone on I’ve actually found that I am much more cognizant of being a woman in medicine and it’s importance and making sure I’m a good example and making sure that I’m understanding the disparities that not only other physicians are having, but also my patients as well.” – Dr. Erin Hecker (OB/GYN)

Credits: article image courtesy of Betsy Cha, M2 

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