Male OB-GYNs Are Growing Rare. Is That A Problem?

This story is a part of a partnership that features WFAE, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

This story may be republished at no cost (details).

As she left a 12-hour day on the labor and supply shift, Dr. Katie Merriam turned off her pager.

“I don’t know what I’d do without it, you know? It’s another limb. I always know where it is,” she stated, laughing.

The third-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology on the Carolinas Medical Center hospital in Charlotte, N.C., works in a medical specialty dominated by ladies, treating ladies. She feels a particular connection to her sufferers, Merriam stated.

“You just, you can feel what they feel and understand why they feel certain ways. I do feel a special bond,” she stated.

Nationally, 82 p.c of docs matching into OB-GYN residency programs are ladies. Many OB-GYN sufferers say they like feminine docs. Merriam’s residency class is a little bit of an anomaly — half of its members are males. Though it’s good to work with so many ladies, Merriam stated, she and a few of her feminine colleagues additionally like the angle that males carry to the work atmosphere.

“No one could really pinpoint about what balance they bring, but there’s something nice about having them,” she stated.

It’s necessary to have males within the area, she stated, if solely to proceed to present sufferers choices of their alternative of suppliers. But most of her mates and different ladies she talks to, she stated, need feminine docs.

Blake Butterworth, a fourth-year obstetrics and gynecology resident on the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, stated he doesn’t take it personally when he hears that kind of factor from a affected person.

“I don’t get discouraged; I don’t get offended,” Butterworth stated. “I gladly hand that patient off.”

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He’s one among solely two male residents in this system of 24 at MUSC and stated he finds it rewarding when he can win a brand new affected person’s confidence.

“I have patients that clearly express disdain to have to see a guy,” he stated. “Then I develop rapport with her. And she says, ‘I expected you to be X, Y, Z, and you were better than that.’”

Butterworth stated he selected obstetrics and gynecology as a result of it lets him develop long-term relationships with sufferers — offering routine OB-GYN care and extra difficult surgical procedures, if want be.

“Once you really get into it, and get involved in it, I don’t think that bias [that the field is best left to women] holds true,” he stated.

Butterworth stated he believes it’s incumbent on male OB-GYNs to speak to male medical college students about the advantages of getting males within the area. Students must comprehend it’s OK to have an curiosity within the area, he stated, and that they’ll discover work.

In reality, says Dr. Ashlyn Savage, an affiliate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at MUSC, it could be the other.

“In an effort to really diversify the applicant pool, we will apply in some cases different screening standards to decide who we are going to interview,” Savage stated. “For example, we might consider an applicant with a slightly lower board score — just to enhance how many men we are interviewing and considering.”

Dr. Katie Merriam, an OB-GYN resident in Charlotte, N.C., says she loves her largely feminine work atmosphere but in addition appreciates having male colleagues. (Alex Olgin/WFAE)

It has been a problem to search out male OB-GYNs for this system, she stated. The gender that at one time dominated the sphere is now at some colleges thought of a range rent. But Savage questions whether or not balancing the variety of women and men within the specialty is as necessary as racial or ethnic range.

“The interesting thing to me is the primary motivation to [seek a diverse candidate pool] is so that patients have the opportunity to seek out physicians who might … feel like themselves,” she stated. “In this particular case … all of the patients for OB-GYNs are women.”

Among training OB-GYNs within the U.S., a little fewer than half are men, in response to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, previously often known as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But ACOG predicts that 10 years from now, two-thirds of the docs in that specialty will likely be feminine.

Still, male docs maintain many key posts in OB-GYN skilled organizations.

“Leadership tends to be held by people who are older,” Savage stated. “And we are still in a scenario where [more of] our older faculty tend to be men.”

study revealed final fall discovered that ladies are underrepresented in management roles in medical college departments of obstetrics and gynecology all through the nation. That ratio was most lopsided in males’s favor within the South.

It’s maybe solely a matter of time earlier than that, too, adjustments. Savage stated she just lately discovered that her program’s incoming class of OB-GYN residents subsequent yr will likely be all feminine.

This story is a part of a partnership that features WFAE, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

This story is a part of a partnership that features WFAE, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

This story may be republished at no cost (details).

Alex Olgin, WFAE: @Alexolgin

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