Last week’s special Women in Medicine grand round panel event at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne shone a spotlight on gender equity and diversity in the health care system and what it means for patient care.
Below you can watch her interviews with all the panelists and others contributing to initiatives and the broader debate.
TimesUp for inequity, harassment and assault in health care
She talks here about how powerful it is to advocate for change in medicine and to be part of a community of support for women – including harnessing otters to create “a raft of bitches” – “across the entire house of medicine, not just in emergency medicine”.
On implicit bias and the need for broader inclusion
“Gender is not the only thing that makes us diverse.” Dr Neela Janakiramanan, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, talks about implicit bias (including her own) and the need for diversity and inclusion in the health workforce, not just for women but for others who struggle for representation and respect, including foreign trained doctors, and those in health who are LGBTIQ or have disabilities.
Building safe health care through diverse workforces
Dr Skye Kinder, a first year psychiatric trainee at St Vincent’s Melbourne who grew up in regional Victoria, talks about her journey to medicine and the need for greater support for people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and rural, regional and remote areas to ensure greater diversity in the health workforce so that health care is safe for everyone.
“Our system is still really tailored to specific subsets of patients and not encompassing of all of the patients deserving of care,” she told Croakey.
Why were there two men on the Women in Medicine panel?
#HealthAdvocacyWIM coordinator Dr Rebecca Szabo said the question she was asked most in the lead-up to the grand round was why were there two men on the panel. Here Croakey talks to those two men: Dr Simon Judkins, President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and Professor David Story, an anaesthetist and the Foundation chair of Anaesthesia at the University of Melbourne and Head of the Anaesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine Unit.
They talk about their main takeaways from the event and efforts to improve gender equity in leadership roles in medical colleges and hospital departments. There’s one telling exchange with Judkins (who is working to improve gender equity across the board):
Croakey: When you have (ACEM) board meetings, how many women are there in the room?
Judkins: Not many.
Croakey: How many is not many?
Taking a lead on female quotas
The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has taken a lead on gender equity, endorsing a new Constitution to go to a special vote by members on May 7 that includes a Board gender quota of 40 per cent women – reflecting its membership numbers.
Branch president Associate Professor Julian Rait and his daughter Louise Rait talk about the pathways available for women in medicine and health research and the need to continue addressing “widespread disadvantage”. Rait talks about a breakthrough moment of hearing about the harassment experienced by women in the workplace.
Getting better but “let’s not sugar coat it”
Dr Rodney Mitchell, president of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), talks about the recent release of the college’s Gender Equity Position Statement and Action Plan. Mitchell says the college has a good track record with women in leadership positions in some respects, but it still has a way to go: “let’s not sugar coat it” for the 45 per cent of trainees and 35 per cent of fellows who are women. The Action Plan recognises the growing number of women in the specialty, outlines what success would look like with gender equity, and has a tool kit with practical steps to take, including this Gender Equity Self-Assessment Quiz.
Big and small steps to structural change
Dr Kirsten Connan, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, notes the irony and risk involved at her college, where the specialty with a focus on women’s health, still struggles to provide access to leadership opportunities for its female fellows and trainees. Dr Rebecca Szabo, also an obstetrician, coordinated the Women in Medicine grand round at the Royal Women’s in Melbourne. They talk about their takeaways from the event, the big and small things that need doing, and the power of connecting in real life and on social media, including with #MeToo #MedTwitter and #TimesUpHC.