Gendered Expectations: Do They Contribute to High Burnout Among Female Physicians?

Perspective

Abstract

Patients have differing expectations of female versus male physicians. Female patients tend to seek more empathic listening and longer visits, especially with female physicians; however, female doctors are not provided more time for this. Female doctors have more female patients than male doctors, and more patients with psychosocial complexity. We propose that gender differences in patient panels and gendered expectations of female physicians may contribute to the high rate of burnout among female clinicians, as well as to the many female physicians working part-time to reduce stress in their work lives. We propose several mechanisms for addressing this, including brief increments in visit time (20, 30 and 40 min), staff awareness, training in patient expectations during medical school, adjusting for patient gender in compensation plans, and co-locating behavioral medicine specialists in primary care settings. Beneficial outcomes could include fewer malpractice suits, greater patient satisfaction, higher quality care, and lower burnout among female physicians.

KEY WORDS

burnout disparities patient satisfaction physician behavior psychosocial 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Sara Poplau and the librarians at Hennepin County Medical Center, Danielle A. Becker and Paul A. Reid, who provided numerous key references that explained and supported the central thesis in our paper.

This work has not been presented elsewhere.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Office of Professional WorklifeHennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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