Are surgical interns harassed with inappropriate pages?

Women have long faced discrimination in the medical profession, but research into its manifestations and effects is scarce. If the US healthcare system is to achieve gender equity, a deep commitment to further study the issue is needed.

Two new projects are expanding medical knowledge about the experiences of female physicians. One, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, assesses how female surgical residents are affected by interpersonal communication, particularly during the internship year. Another, at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, studies the xenophobic experiences of Arab women in academic medicine.


Each project is funded by the Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to support research that advances the study of women in the medical profession and builds the capacity of the AMA identify and address issues affecting female physicians. and medical students, including:

  • Leadership training protocols.
  • Gender-Based Patterns of Physician Practice.
  • Physician satisfaction or burnout.
  • Retention incentives.
  • Practice re-entry problems.

The scholarship was established by the AMA Women Physicians Section (AMA-WPS) in conjunction with the WADA Foundation. Her first grant was awarded in 2006 and she has awarded 33 grants to date. The AMA-WPS celebrates female physicians, residents and medical students each September during Women in Medicine Month.

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The Brigham and Women’s Hospital project hypothesizes that interpersonal communication “contributed to the mistreatment of interns during their first year of surgical residency, as determined by the quality, quantity, and timing of pages between residents” and other healthcare professionals, according to the grant application written by the investigators.

The principal investigator is Kavitha Ranganathan, MD, and her co-principal investigators are Timothy R. Smith, MD, PhD, MPH, and medical student research assistant Cierra N. Harper. They will assess paging data from 2014 to 2022 to determine whether the frequency of inappropriate, unprofessional, or negative pages differs by gender, race, ethnicity, and surgical subspecialty.

“We will determine the prevalence of difficult interpersonal communication between surgical residents and non-physician providers stratified by demographic factors and over time,” they wrote.

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Xenophobia – the fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers – has in recent years disproportionately affected people from Arab countries coming to live and work in the United States. AMA opposes it.

This is not an abstract issue for the medical profession, it is crucial for maintaining the workforce. International medical graduates now make up a quarter of American physicians.

“This qualitative phenomenological The interpretative research study aims to explore the experiences of first-generation Arab immigrant female physicians on the challenges they faced in the American academic medical system, through in-depth interviews,” wrote lead researchers Maram Alkhatib, MD, and Zareen Zaidi, MD, PhD, of George Washington University.

The findings, the doctors noted, could help identify the problems facing Arab women in academic medicine. They could also help program directors and faculty affairs managers develop new administrative tools to support Arab women in medicine.

“At present, with the rise of nationalism,” the authors wrote, “it is particularly important for academic medicine to highlight the impact of xenophobia on women and to bring this to the attention traditional forums on diversity, equity and inclusion”.

Explore the AMA Center for Health Equity and the AMA’s strategic plan to mainstream racial justice and advance health equity.

Christine E. Phillips