As a female physician walking into a newly admitted patient’s room for the first time, the favorite question is, “Are you a nurse?” I’ve been asked this so many times that the question is now permanently on my radar with every new patient encounter.Female colleagues, including an orthopedic resident who was once a boxer, an emergency room attending who pulls bullets out of people and throws tubes down their throats to resuscitate them, and a dermatologist donning 6 inch heels, have all battled the stigma of the XX genotype in having to field this question. Welcome to a gender role obsessed society, right?
This is why I was so excited to see this study:
Researchers at Harvard (thank you, Harvard) published a study in Jama concluding that patients who were taken care of by female doctors in a hospital setting were more likely to live longer after getting discharged and were less likely to get readmitted within a month of discharge. The abbreviated version: 1.5 million patients were analyzed. Diagnoses and hospital location as well as other external factors were controlled for (meaning kept the same among groups studied). The only thing that varied was the sex of the doctor. Guess what? The outcome favored the ladies.
And for the icing on that cake, Harvard findings confirm results from prior studies like this one on measures of quality. Women are more likely to use evidence based medicine, be more patient centered, and as redundant as it may seem to state this as someone in this biz, care.