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UC Davis study highlights work-life issues of female surgeons
Date:7/22/2009

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Even with the demands of surgical careers, most surgeons would still choose their profession again. Women surgeons, however, are far more likely to postpone having children or to not have children at all and would prefer more flexibility in their work schedules, a national survey conducted by UC Davis researchers has found. The survey findings are reported today in the Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Surgery is an exciting and rewarding field. It requires a combination of intellectual, technical and patient-care skills," said Kathrin Troppmann, lead author of the study and an associate professor at UC Davis. "It has traditionally been one of the most male-dominated specialties in medicine, so the conversations about workplace changes that could encourage women to choose and to stay in surgical careers are just getting started. Our goal was to provide health-care leaders and policymakers with good information for encouraging those conversations."

Troppmann, a gastrointestinal surgeon, has seen a growing number of women in medical school classrooms. Today, as the medical school student body consists of 50 percent women, she mentors more women interns and residents than she did a decade ago. She predicts that the surgical profession, where women currently constitute just 14 percent of the workforce, will catch up to these trends by expanding the number of women in its ranks. Based on the survey outcomes, the study team hopes that the profession will develop policies that will help accommodate the long, irregular hours associated with working in the operating room.

"With women becoming a big part of the recruitment pool, it's essential to understand their needs and expectations," Troppmann said. "Otherwise, it will be difficult for institutions to recruit top surgeons. And, if the workplace can't be flexible, the surgical field will lose a lot of talented women."

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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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