Do Androids Dream of “He” Docs?

In a courageous JAMA article from this month, “Putting the “She” in Doctor,” Dr. Ersilia M. DeFilippis tells the story of Margaret Ann Bulkley (aka, James Barry) a 19th century Irish military surgeon who dressed as a man in order to pursue a career in surgery. As a 21st century physician, Dr. DeFilippis laments that it would probably be easier on female doctors if they continued to dress as men.

““For the women in the room: raise your hand if you have ever been called a nurse.” I was in a residency noon conference on gender bias in medicine. Everyone raised their hands, including the newest interns who had started a few months earlier. When the speaker asked the men in the room, no hands went up.”

Sexual assault, harassment and sexism toward women in medicine is rampant, underreported and directly affects patient care and outcomes. If you’re wondering why this is read Dear ACGME: Primum non nocere.

“Sexual assault and harassment has been shown in all levels of academic medicine from attending physicians to resident physicians to medical students, but only 20% of these behaviors are reported.” 

Ideas for how to address this dark secret in medicine, including a Response to Dr. DeFilippis’s piece, are beginning to surface. If you have any ideas of your own, please comment.


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