AMA president advocates for more equitable future in medicine
PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — American Medical Association President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, wants to energize women to enact change that will bring parity of leadership in “the house of medicine.”
“We need resilience to get us through the day, but I don’t want us to stop there. I don’t want us to learn how to be resilient and complacent in a system that needs work,” McAneny said in a presentation at the Women in Ophthalmology 2018 Summer Symposium. “I want to change the system. I want to make it into a system where we don’t need so much in the way of resilience, where the system itself helps us to become stronger and better able to do a better job for our patients. Yes, I want you to have the resilience to get you through the day, but I want you to have energy left over to make changes in those things that still need change.”
There are inequities in the balance between men and women in leadership positions in health care. One in five “C-suite” leaders — for example, chief executive officers, chief financial officers and chief operating officers — is a woman, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color, she said.
“This will not do. We still hold up half the sky,” McAneny said.
There also continues to be a significant pay gap, reaching up to $90,000 a year less pay for women specialists, she said. The gap is not as significant for women primary care physicians but persists nonetheless.
“That doesn’t strike me as entirely fair,” she said. “So we have to think about that, and we have to learn that we need to step forward and demonstrate our value and speak up, raise our hand for what we deserve to have.”
An AMA survey looking at the struggles and the strengths of women in medicine found that 44% of respondents did not think their place of work provided adequate support for managing family responsibilities and that a majority of women want greater flexibility to help address work and family responsibilities.
As an employer in an oncology practice, McAneny said she recognizes that developing flexibility and work-life balance “comes at a cost, and we have to help figure out that cost and how it will be paid.”
The field of medicine is changing, she said. Physicians tend to be younger and more diverse, more women than men are entering medical school, and the new generation is more tech savvy and more focused on work-life balance.
“More and more young people, young women, are entering medicine, and that is great. We need more women members in the AMA. We have 377,000 women physicians; we need more than 82,000 of you in the AMA,” McAneny said. “When you are trying to lobby for something that matters to you, having allies is key.” – by Patricia Nale, ELS
McAneny BL. Promoting women leadership in a new era of medicine. Presented at: Women in Ophthalmology 2018 Summer Symposium; Aug. 16-19; Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Disclosure: McAneny reports she is president of the AMA and founder of New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants Ltd.