Female Spine Residents NOT So Interested in Maternity Leave
What is important to women who apply to spine and orthopedic residency programs? Hint, it’s not the maternity leave.
Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, both in Hershey, Pennslyvania, have recently published a new study titled, “Factors in Orthopaedic Residency Decision-making for Female Applicants: A Cross-sectional Study.” The study appears in the December 15, 2020 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Co-author Jesse Bible, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, told OTW, “After two of the female medical students I mentor attended the North American Spine Society Annual Meeting in 2018, they noted the lack of women at the conference and were often assumed to be vendors for medical supply companies rather than medical professionals in training. In discussing this experience with them, we came up with this idea for a research project with the goal of making orthopaedic residency programs more attractive to female applicants.”
So the researchers sent out a two-part survey to female orthopedic residents, asking them to score 17 different characteristics on importance. The survey team then asked these residents to rank their top five things that most influenced their decision when choosing an orthopedic surgery residency. A total of 158 out of 305 individuals responded to the survey.
Traditional Attractors Not so Important
“I think the biggest surprise in our results,” Dr. Bible told OTW, “was that the factors traditionally thought to attract females to programs were some of the lowest ranked including attitudes towards maternity leave, number of female residents, number of female attendings, and gender diversity of faculty and residents. In fact, attitudes towards maternity leave was ranked as the least important factor of the 17 different characteristics investigated.”
“The most important results from this study were the factors rated to be of highest importance: camaraderie among current residents and happiness of current residents and of lowest importance: attitudes towards maternity leave. Program directors looking to attract female applicants to their orthopaedic surgery program may use this data to focus their efforts on displaying resident happiness and camaraderie, instead of showcasing attitudes towards maternity leave and their gender diversity statistics.”
Advice to Residency Programs: Skip the Diversity Stats
“Orthopaedic surgery continues to be the most male-dominated specialty in medicine. We hope that the data we presented here may help to guide program directors wishing to recruit female orthopaedic surgery residents. This is especially relevant with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that required interviews to be virtual this year because it can be difficult to assess the culture of a program virtually. We recommended in our discussion to use pictures and videos of the residents outside of the hospital to showcase the camaraderie within their program rather than focusing on gender diversity statistics during their interview day presentations.”