, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 309-312

Gender differences in the clinical competence of residents in internal medicine

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Objective:To study the differences between cognitive and noncognitive skills of men and those of women entering internal medicine.

Design:Comparison of program directors’ ratings of overall clinical competence and its specific components and pass rates for men and women taking the Certifying Examinations in Internal Medicine in 1984–1987.

Participants:14,340 U.S. and Canadian graduates taking the Certifying Examinations of the American Board of Internal Medicine for the first time in 1984–1987.

Measurements/results:Average program directors’ ratings of overall competence were 6.70–6.78 for men and 6.60–6.71 for women. The greatest differences in ratings of specific components of competence were in the areas of medical knowledge and procedural skills, where men were rated higher than women, and humanistic qualities, where women were rated higher than men. Pass rates were stable over the four years of the study, and ranged from 85 to 86% for men and from 79 to 81% for women. Men consistently performed slightly better than women regardless of the type of residency or quality of medical school attended.

Conclusions:Small but consistent differences were found in the performances of men and those of women completing training in Internal Medicine as measured by program directors’ ratings and ABIM Certifying Examination performances.

Received from the American Board of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Supported by the American Board of Internal Medicine, but this article does not necessarily reflect the Board’s opinions or policies.