Women in Medicine Month: Recruiting Female Physicians with Flexibility

Posted by Doximity TF Team

women-in-medicine-750pxIn 1960, there were roughly 200 women physicians in the U.S. As of March 2018, there are nearly 334k – approximately 34% of professionally active physicians (per the Henry J Kaiser Foundation). Data suggests that number is still rising. In fact, in 2017 the number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools topped the number of men for the first time ever (per Medscape).   

So, more women are practicing MDs and DOs. Should you tailor your recruiting for them? Absolutely. Your recruiting isn’t limited to generalities in other areas, so why not accommodate female physicians? They’re unique in what they value in a job, and in the way they engage with patients. Even the rural physician shortage is uniquely affected by a lack of female physicians because it limits access to care for women patients – who often prefer women clinicians and appear to complete more screening tests when they're treated by women.

September is Women in Medicine Month (led by the AMA), so it’s a good time to consider the professional concerns of female physicians. Some things can be applied across the board to male candidates, too, but a focus on female physicians will ensure you have a more diverse and unique pool of applicants. Women often have different professional aspirations that you can tailor your recruiting towards.

Finding Balance Requires Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the top concerns for female doctors, and that means prioritizing their work/life balance. Women view time with family and friends
– as well as pursuing other aspects of their life – as highly significant, so non-traditional benefits such as flexible work schedules, commuter benefits, unlimited paid time off, and paid volunteer time could help you attract and retain women. 
A few other things to note about female physicians:

  • They continue to shoulder the bulk of household and childcare duties (per a study from JAMA Internal Medicine)
  • They’re more likely to cut back professionally to accommodate their household responsibilities.
  • They’re more likely to take time off work when a child is sick or their school is closed (per a study from the National Institutes of Health).

The AMA reports that female physicians want more options to help them address the struggles they face when trying to balance their work and family responsibilities. Per a survey of female doctors conducted for Women in Medicine Month last year:

  • 97% said they want the option to have a flexible work schedule
  • 41% said their workplace didn’t provide adequate support for managing family responsibilities
  • 7 in 10 women physicians said their workplace lacked adequate childcare opportunities.

How flexible is your opportunity? Ask these questions:

  • Do you provide time or have a plan for coverage during family crises that involve the doctor?
  • What is your maternity leave policy?  
  • Do you offer flexible hours for physician parents?
  • If a physician is pregnant, can you avoid scheduling overnight shifts?
  • Do you offer daycare options? Can schedules or meetings be scheduled during daycare hours?
  • Are your restrooms conducive to nursing or feeding babies?
  • Do you offer part-time options or perhaps job-sharing options?

Beware of stereotyping female physicians, though. Not every woman is married with children and not every woman wants to get married and have children and asking outright could be seen as potentially discriminatory. So, don’t assume! Ask the right questions to help these candidates achieve their goals and accommodate their lifestyle.

Physician gender impacts a lot of issues in a lot of other ways. Female physicians handle burnout differently than their male counterparts, for instance. There’s also a significant wage gap between male and female physicians. We'll be covering more female-driven topics right here soon.

We recently conducted a survey of Doximity physicians to explore their recruiting and career preferences in the industry. We invite you to download the report here.

Or if you'd like to learn more about social recruitment and how you can use it to hire the best candidates, check out our page What is Social Recruiting.

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Topics: Work-life balance, Women in Medicine Month, female physicians, recruiting female physicians, rural physician shortage, attract and retain women, women MDs and DOs, female doctors, physician gender, professional concerns of female physicians

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