American Medical Association Meeting
American Medical Association Meeting
June 12, 2018
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AMA passes ACC resolution about gender equity in physician compensation

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Kim Allan Williams, MD
Kim Allan Williams Sr.

The House of Delegates for the AMA passed a resolution proposed by the American College of Cardiology to take steps to reduce the gender gap in physician compensation.

The ACC resolution was combined with three similar resolutions by the AMA Reference Committee and passed by the House of Delegates at the AMA annual meeting in Chicago.

The ACC resolution called for steps to be taken because there are significant differences in salary and compensation between male and female physicians “despite improvements in explicit gender discrimination;” female physicians earn less than their male counterparts even after adjustments for factors such as age, experience, specialty and research productivity; annual salaries at 24 U.S. public medical schools are 8% lower for female physicians than their male counterparts, persisting across academic ranks; the gap widens over the course of a female physician’s career; and “implicit biases persist and cultural stereotypes continue to disadvantage women in male-dominated fields.”

The resolution resulted from an ACC initiative to “work on diversity and inclusion in cardiology,” Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC, MASNC, FAHA, James B. Herrick Professor and chief of the division of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, past president of the ACC and a Cardiology Today Editorial Board Member, said in an interview. “One issue we took on was the cliff that occurs; in the United States, about 50% of medical students and internal medicine residents are women, but the number of young women going into cardiology is only about 20%. We looked at every aspect that makes cardiology unattractive to women. One thing we found is that there is a gender pay gap, and it is substantial. In cardiology, it is about $35,000 per year, which averages out over a career to be more than $1 million. For all physicians, it is about $20,000 per year.”

The ACC resolution called for the AMA to take the following steps:

Advocate for institutional and departmental policies to make more transparent the criteria for physician compensation.

Advocate “for equal base pay based on objective criteria.”

Work to promote bias and compensation determination training for people in positions to decide physician compensation.

Promote “a specified approach, sufficient to identify gender disparity, to oversight of compensation models, metrics and actual total compensation for all employed physicians.”

Begin educational programs to help all physicians negotiate equitable compensation.

“Policies trying to end this gap don’t seem to have gotten the message through,” Williams told Cardiology Today. “Not only should the AMA work to help change departmental policies, but the AMA itself should be advocating for equal pay based on objective criteria. Four different organizations were thinking about the same thing.” – by Erik Swain

For more information:

Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC, MASNC, FAHA, can be reached at Rush University Medical Center, 1653 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612; email: kim_a_williams@rush.edu; Twitter: @cardio10s.

Disclosure: Williams reports no relevant financial disclosures.