The advocacy group Women in Endocrinology is once again holding its annual meeting and dinner at ENDO 2019, spotlighting member achievements in the field, trailblazing young investigators and mentors who have paved the way for women beginning their careers. The dinner meeting, taking place Saturday at 6:30 p.m., will offer networking opportunities for attendees and honor several young investigators and members for mentor ship and distinguished service.
Lila Nachtigall, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University School of Medicine and director of the interdisciplinary menopause study group, will serve as the group’s keynote speaker this year, touching on her decades-long career as a reproductive endocrinologist.
Hard for women physicians
There groundbreaking research in estrogen replacement therapy for women and on the obstacles they overcame as a woman in academic medicine. Endocrine Today spoke with Nachtigall about her keynote talk, tackling the pressing issue of physician burnout and the importance of women helping other women.
They trying to tell women that, looking back now,they feel that my career was both. They want to help women in any way to carve out a similar path. Women need to balance life and a career, and that means different things for different people, but it can be particularly hard for women physicians. They work long hours. It is important for women to not be afraid to get help, and get the best help you can get.
They talk about the help they have gotten along the way, from family, aides, everything. Don’t be afraid to get help or ashamed to get help. My other big message is they seem to be suffering more from burnout now. In my day, they worked hours that were just as long, if not longer, but they didn’t have this burnout issue. In part, it is because we’ve lost our autonomy in medicine. They have third-party insurance companies telling us what to do.
So much of what they now do is clerical work and not doctor work, and the studies reflect that. A recent study published in January in JAMA showed that women physicians experience burnout about 15% more than men physicians do, and 50% of women were suffering from significant burnout. That is terrible. My appeal is that they have to get together and fight back and do something, and not just accept this.
The National Academy of Physicians has organized a consortium to fight this in many ways. It has had a slow start, but if a lot of us from different organizations join them, they might be able to help with that. In addition, with the Endocrine Society, which has so many women physicians, they could start a localized groundswell. They have to get together and address this issue, and I will be making that point in my talk. Women can do better. They must do something.
When Nachtigall first entered medicine, it was different. You had to be quiet. You couldn’t ask questions, and I’ll give some examples about that in my talk. Today, patients accept women physicians. In my time, they did not. However, on the high academic level, things have not really improved. Today, it remains much harder for a woman to go up the career ladder to become a full professor.
One study recently showed that the percentage of women who go from professor to full professor is incredibly low, still. As women, they have to help other women move up. They are seeing many more women physicians, but they are not seeing them rise to the top.Endocrine in general is underfunded for research; so this can disproportionately affect women in research, who are entering endocrinology in increasing numbers. People perhaps do not take endocrine research as seriously as other specialties, and that needs to change.