Women in Medicine – Millennium Group

Dr. Matilde Montoya Lafragua was the first Mexican woman to graduate as a doctor in our country, becoming a benchmark for medical practice in Mexico. On August 24, 1887, Matilde presented her professional examination at the National School of Medicine, in the presence of then President Porfirio Díaz, to obtain her university degree.

Mexico has only had one woman in charge of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mercedes Juan López, who held that position from 2012 to 2016. Since then, there has been no other woman in charge of this federal agency. In the US, history was made in 1990 when Dr. Antonia Novello was appointed surgeon general (‘the citizen’s doctor’, her role is to provide Americans with the best available scientific information on how to take care of their health). Since then, only two other women have held this prestigious position.

The leaders of different health institutions must make flexibility, respect and advancement main themes of their culture in general, but especially for women doctors. These approaches are especially necessary for younger female physicians graduating from medical school or residency and starting their families at the same time.

Women make up more than a third of all resident physicians in our country and are the growing majority among medical students. Personally, I have always been in clinical and surgical teams where more than half of the people who participate are women, but my experience is very limited, because I have only been in private hospitals, tertiary public hospitals and institutes. nationals in Mexico City.

On average, physicians spend more time with each patient and then spend more time documenting the case in medical records. Their hard work pays off for patients, some quality metrics for patient outcomes indicate that female doctors perform slightly better. For example, some studies show that older hospitalized patients treated by women have lower mortality and readmission rates.

The lives of female doctors have changes that go beyond medical practice, the differences in the time that academic doctors dedicate to raising children and other extra-professional care responsibilities existed before the pandemic closed schools and day care centers and increase the needs of older adults. Differences in caregiving roles in the workplace have also existed for decades, as evidenced by the lack of women holding medical positions in academic and clinical medicine.

Organizations that want to retain women as healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, nutritionists, dentists, psychologists, etc.) must provide them with flexibility in terms of hours, job-sharing opportunities, remote work, and parental leave policies.

Other welcome practices include providing resources to expedite access to child care, somehow covering fees for programs like day care, and ensuring that lactation rooms are available.

Through ups and downs and decades of discrimination, women in medicine have persisted and continue to do so despite the pay gap, widespread sexual harassment in the workplace, and conflict between family and work. While equal rights for women in medicine are increasing, there is a need for equal opportunity at all levels of the medical profession.

Victor Andrade Carmona*


* The author is a medical researcher of movement Science Prevents Violencean initiative of the Anahuac Public Health Institute, Anahuac University Mexico

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