New York City (NYC) City Council Member Helen Rosenthal (R) has introduced a bill that would ... [+] establish a Gender Equity Advisory Board for NYC's hospitals. (Photo: Courtesy of NYC City Council Member Rosenthal's Office and the Committee of Interns & Residents)
Whats worse than experiencing harassment and discrimination? How about experiencing harassment and discrimination with nowhere to turn for help?
Whats worse than having nowhere to turn for help? How about turning to people for help and then later realizing that they are aligned with the perpetrators of the harassment and discrimination in the first place?
New York City (NYC) Council Member Helen Rosenthal, MPH has heard stories of how women medical students, residents, physicians, and other health care professionals have been caught in such situations. Theyve told her how theyve tried to go through the channels offered by their institutions, such as medical schools or hospitals, only to get little help and even suffer retaliation, resulting in damage that could take years to heal. Learning of such experiences prompted Rosenthal, who is also the Chair of the NYC Committee on Women and Gender Equity, to introduce legislation that, if passed, would establish a Gender Equity Advisory Board for NYC's hospitals.The Advisory Board would advise the Mayor and City Council on how to keep women healthcare workers in NYC safe at their workplaces.
The key is that this Advisory Board would be independent of medical schools, hospitals, and other healthcare institutions in NYC and consist of people from different diverse disciplines, demographics, and backgrounds. Such a structure could help prevent the institutions and their leadership from having sway over the board. It would also provide a potentially safer, more empathetic channel for people to register complaints about discrimination, harassment, or both. After all, it can be more difficult to understand discrimination and harassment if you havent experienced it specifically yourself.
Making sure that women feel safe in healthcare environments should be kind of important to you, assuming that you like being alive and you like your family and friends to be that way too. After all, theres a darn good chance that a woman healthcare professional will care for you, your family, or your friends at some point. According to Rosenthal, women make up close to 80% of the healthcare workforce." And women have been comprising close to half of all medical students for quite a while now, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). That means lots of doctors are currently and will continue to be women. If you still believe that women dont make as good doctors as men, then maybe its time to ditch such antiquated thinking along with the sundial or hourglass that you are currently using to keep time.
So which then would you prefer, when it comes to the people taking care of your health and potentially your life? Would you want them stressed out, distracted, and even burnt out because they are facing discrimination or harassment? Or would you want them to feel safer and more comfortable so that they can make full use of their talents and abilities to help you? So whats it going to be? Do you even have to think about it?
To say that discrimination and harassment may occur in medicine and health care would be kind of like saying there may be mosquitoes who want to bite people. Studies have found both discrimination and harassment to be quite prevalent. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that 65.1% of women general surgery residents reported gender discrimination and 19.9% reported sexual harassment. As I have reported before for Forbes, other studies have found even higher numbers.
Despite the prevalence of harassment and discrimination, studies have at the same time revealed that many women health care professionals may be reluctant to report such transgressions. An AAMC survey showed that only 21% of medical students who suffered harassment or other offensive behaviors ended up reporting the incidents to faculty members or administrators. The reasons for this silence? Well, for 37%, it was I did not think anything would be done about it, for 28% fear of reprisal, and for 9% I did not know what to do. Thats well over half feeling like there is no real recourse. According to a 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, low reporting rates continue well beyond medical school deep into womens medical and health careers. Reporting rates are even lower for women of color such as Black women, Asian American women, and Latinas. In this case, silence is not golden. Instead, it can be lead, like a lead pipe.
This is the impact of cultural misogyny, which is insidious, explained Rosenthal. It is so deeply embedded everywhere and starts with a ruling class. The old guard were taught and trained to be physicians in a certain way. Since it worked well for them, they are continuing that when training others.
The majority of leadership of medical schools and hospitals continue to be White men, despite medical school classes since the 1990s being a majority women and men of color. You would expect several decades of many men of color and women going through medical school to result in more of them in leadership positions at established institutions. However, a Perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that at the current rate academic medicine would not reach gender parity for at least another 50 years. Yes, climate change may be in some ways moving faster than diversification.
Rosenthal has long been interested in health care, having gotten a masters in public health and studied issue about physicians in medicine and medical malpractice. The idea for the bill came after plaintiffs in an age, race, and sex discrimination lawsuit against the Mount Sinai Health Systems Icahn School of Medicine approached her. I previously covered for Forbes the initiation of this lawsuit as the following tweet summarized:
We started brainstorming and worked with the city council to think about what it is the city has jurisdiction over, related Rosenthal. What can the city do to shine a spotlight on discrimination and harassment and change the culture.
Pictured here are Anu Anandaraja, MD, MPH, (R) one of the founders of Equity Now, along with other ... [+] protesters outside the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine on December 21, 2019. (Photo: Courtesy of Anu Anandaraja/Equity Now)
Consider how much damage [perpetrators of discrimination and harassment] are doing to all of the medical students and doctors as well as patients, said Rosenthal. If there is an environment that is dismissive of women, they have a bigger challenge in earning respect both from peers and superiors and from patients. How confident then will the patient be of the woman medical student or physician? She added, This is not good for anyone. Much like systemic racism, it is embedded in how these supervisors teach and behave.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have claimed that they used the available channels at the Icahn School of Medicine like Human Resources (HR) to complain about the discrimination and harassment that they were facing. According to them, while they initially were assured that these channels would protect them and maintain confidentiality, this didnt turn out to be the case. Instead, much of the efforts of the institution allegedly seemed to be to protect its leaders and those people chosen by the leaders.
On their website, Equity Now, an initiative launched by the plaintiffs, describes themselves as a group of current and past employees of the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at Mount Sinai. We are physicians, public health practitioners, administrative assistants and project managers. The website continues by saying that Over the last few years, we have all experienced workplace discrimination that damaged our careers and personal lives. Our attempts to address these issues through institutional mechanisms failed, and we found ourselves left with no option but the legal route to have our voices heard.
As example of institutional mechanisms failing, one of the plaintiffs, Amanda Misiti, EMPA, a Program and Policy Research Manager at the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said: There was no integrity to the investigation we participated in. Our confidentiality was not respected, there was no transparency and ultimately we were retaliated against and further hurt by institutional gaslighting.
Another plaintiff, Stella Safo, MD, MPH, an attending physician at Mount Sinai and a Strategic Advisor at Premier Inc. related that she found that your complaints could get you in more trouble. HR is not your friend. HR works for the institution first.
Safo mentioned suffering gaslighting that tried to make you think that you are the problem. They try to convince you that what you are seeing isnt happening and these things that you are experiencing arent so bad. In this situation, gaslighting doesnt have anything to do with using a cigarette lighter and any liquid or emission that may be referred to as gas. Instead, the Encyclopedia Britannica defines gaslighting as an elaborate and insidious technique of deception and psychological manipulation, usually practiced by a single deceiver, or gaslighter, on a single victim over an extended period. That single deceiver can be a group of people, an organization, or an institution. The encyclopedia entry continues by saying, Its effect is to gradually undermine the victims confidence in his own ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or reality from appearance, thereby rendering him pathologically dependent on the gaslighter in his thinking or feelings.
The following tweet from @EquityNowSinai forwarded a list of gaslighting techniques:
Safo explained how such actions damages your psyche and how they tried to separate people, whispering that other people didnt agree with you to create in-fighting. Safo, who earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, said: There is no reason so many of us have to work this hard just to keep a few men happy. I want to help other Black women know how to navigate such a system.
Misiti emphasized: Third party reporting systems for discrimination are of the utmost importance if organizations are truly committed to equity. This is something I feel very strongly about from my experience.
Of note, in response to the lawsuit and its allegations, representatives of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai provided me with the following statement: "Our primary focus remains on delivering a welcoming, safe, equitable environment so that all staff and students thrive. We strongly disagree with the claims made by the lawsuit and will continue to vigorously defend against it.
Having a truly independent body for those experiencing discrimination or harassment to turn to could go a long way towards changing many existing systems in medicine and healthcare. Again, independent means separate from the influence of medical school, hospital, or other health care institution leadership. After all, youve heard the saying about not wanting foxes to run the henhouse. In other words, would you want leadership of an institution ruling on complaints that may be about the leadership or people being protected by the leadership? That could be like someone saying, oh, you are complaining about me, and then putting a complaints department hat on and asking you to trust him. One of the hopes is a State colleague will pick this bill up and institute a similar bill for New York State, said Rosenthal. The State has authority across all of the hospital systems in New York State and can institute changes. Until such changes occur, how many more people will either suffer in silence or face retaliation when speaking up about discrimination and harassment? And how in turn could this affect you and other patients?
Read the rest here:
- UMass Medical School CIO Greg Wolf receives CIO of the Year award - UMass Medical School - July 1st, 2021
- Life changing moments during Match Week at the University of Massachusetts Medical School - WCVB Boston - July 1st, 2021
- Birding Their Way to the Clinic | Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School - July 1st, 2021
- TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine Reaches Another Milestone by Receiving Provisional Accreditation - TCU - July 1st, 2021
- AIIMS races ahead of Oxford, Cambridge in rankings for best medical schools in the world - India TV News - July 1st, 2021
- Summer School Is Here - The New York Times - July 1st, 2021
- How future physicians can make their medical research stand out - American Medical Association - July 1st, 2021
- 'I no longer think there's any chance he's alive': UC alum missing after Florida condo collapse - WCPO - July 1st, 2021
- Reflecting on LGBTQ mental health discrimination in NC - North Carolina Health News - July 1st, 2021
- Radiology ranks tops among specialties with physicians worth more than $5M - Health Imaging - July 1st, 2021
- Baxter Announces $1.2 Million in New Scholarships and Grant Funding to Support Students Pursuing Health and Sciences at Historically Black Colleges... - July 1st, 2021
- Medical Education Market Giants Spending Is Going To Boom | Harvard Medical School, Zimmer Biomet Institute, Medical Training College The Manomet... - July 1st, 2021
- David Cochran receives grant from Eagles Foundation to study biomarker-driven drug treatment for autism - UMass Medical School - July 1st, 2021
- Tokyo medical school won't pay staff over virus leave caused by 'inappropriate behavior' - The Mainichi - The Mainichi - February 10th, 2021
- ASU ranks 6th in research among US universities without a medical school - The State Press - February 10th, 2021
- U Of M Medical School Sees Increase In Student Applications - FOX 21 Online - February 10th, 2021
- Accreditation process of medical school in Tyler moves forward; first class likely set for 2023 - Tyler Morning Telegraph - February 10th, 2021
- Women now outnumber men in med school. And studies show thats good for patients. - Houston Chronicle - February 10th, 2021
- Medical school suspends study that would have tortured transgender people for science - LGBTQ Nation - February 10th, 2021
- Surge in African American medical school applicants drive to action by Covid - Yahoo News - February 10th, 2021
- [Full text] Is Asking Questions on Rounds a Teachable Skill?[Response to Letter] | AMEP - Dove Medical Press - February 10th, 2021
- Black doctors in white coats on a mission to cure racism and discrimination in the workplace - WCNC.com - February 10th, 2021
- UKZN sets the record straight on 'Operation Clever' probe into fraud at medical school - IOL - February 10th, 2021
- Giving health care heroes a voice on social media - American Medical Association - February 10th, 2021
- Study Reveals Anticoagulation Therapy in Intubated Covid-19 Patients Reduces Mortality | | SBU News - Stony Brook News - February 10th, 2021
- Half of Ontario's medical schools are now named after wealthy donors - The Conversation CA - December 17th, 2020
- Yes, It's Possible To Have a Baby In Medical School Here's How - Pager Publications, Inc. - December 17th, 2020
- California's medical school diversity "nowhere near where it needs to be" - State of Reform - State of Reform - December 17th, 2020
- Medical School Keeps Students on Track By Switching to Virtual and Back - The Roanoke Star - December 17th, 2020
- UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School among first facilities in Texas to receive COVID-19 vaccine - Community Impact Newspaper - December 17th, 2020
- Medical schools see spike in students inspired to apply by the pandemic - KBJR 6 - December 17th, 2020
- How to make the most of holiday time off as a medical student - American Medical Association - December 17th, 2020
- UT Austin's Dell Medical School Is The First Institution In Central Texas Receiving Shipment Of COVID-19 Vaccine - KUT - December 17th, 2020
- Degrees of Protection | Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School - December 17th, 2020
- The Pandemic Thrusts Telepsychiatry to the Fore | NYU Langone News - NYU Langone Health - December 17th, 2020
- Two-phase Infection | Harvard Medical School - Harvard Medical School - December 17th, 2020
- Texas A&M To Grow Medical Education In Round Rock, Surrounding Area - Texas A&M University Today - December 17th, 2020
- Pitt cardiologist sues school after backlash to his article on affirmative action - TribLIVE - December 17th, 2020
- At a Crossroads: Medicine and the Movement - Columbia University Irving Medical Center - December 17th, 2020
- Jameson's term extended as head of Penn Health System and Perelman School of Medicine - Penn Today - December 17th, 2020
- Touro University Nevada's College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2021 Achieves the Highest COMLEX Exam Pass Rate in the Country - PRNewswire - December 17th, 2020
- Hear what the experts from Houston Fights COVID have to say about a new vaccine - KTRK-TV - November 30th, 2020
- Medical Education Research and Innovation Conference set for Dec. 8 - The South End - November 30th, 2020
- 2 Corning-area natives experience COVID-19 pandemic battle on the frontlines - Star-Gazette - November 30th, 2020
- Three Yalies honored for their impact on and beyond Yale with 2020 Yale-Jefferson Awards | Yale Alumni - Yale News - November 30th, 2020
- Medical Education Market Will Hit Big Revenues In Future | Zimmer Biomet Institute, Medical Training College, Harvard Medical School - Murphy's Hockey... - November 30th, 2020
- Immelman, Griebie have mutual admiration for each other - CSB/SJU - November 30th, 2020
- Lobe Sciences Announces Launch of Preclinical Study in Collaboration with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine - Investing News Network - November 30th, 2020
- Physicians' Role in Addressing Racism in-Training, the online peer-reviewed publication for medical students - Pager Publications, Inc. - November 30th, 2020
- So You Traveled Over Thanksgiving. Now What? : Coronavirus Updates - NPR - November 30th, 2020
- Safely celebrating the holidays during a pandemic - KHOU.com - November 30th, 2020
- 2020 AAAS Fellows approved by the AAAS Council - Science Magazine - November 30th, 2020
- 5 ways the pandemic may transform medical education - American Medical Association - October 8th, 2020
- Trump doctor Conley degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine: What it means - On top of Philly news - Billy Penn - October 8th, 2020
- Students Share Medical School Details You Won't Find Anywhere Else | University of Michigan - Michigan Medicine - October 8th, 2020
- In a First, New England Journal of Medicine Joins Never-Trumpers - The New York Times - October 8th, 2020
- Brown University Medical School Dean to Lead Second Session of Five-Part Virtual Future of Medicine Summit : SF STAT! - South Florida Hospital News - October 8th, 2020
- Human brain dissected live in front of medical school students - The Argus - October 8th, 2020
- After 40 years in medicine, here's what a Maine addiction expert has learned about alcohol, opioids and public health - Bangor Daily News - October 8th, 2020
- Trumps Lying Personal Physician And Dr. Umar Johnson Went To The Same Med School - News One - October 8th, 2020
- Study Finds Older Adults Using Cannabis to Treat Common Health Conditions - UC San Diego Health - October 8th, 2020
- U of M Medical School Researchers Found Traces Of COVID-19 On Beaches - FOX 21 Online - October 8th, 2020
- My Body, Whose Choice? - The Regulatory Review - October 8th, 2020
- American Sign Language and the Power of Communication - Pager Publications, Inc. - October 8th, 2020
- Experimental COVID-19 Treatment Given To President Trump Part of Study At U of M Medical School - FOX 21 Online - October 8th, 2020
- Trump Returns Home After Downplaying Disease, but Doctor Says He Isnt Out of the Woods - The New York Times - October 8th, 2020
- Texas doctor, 28, dies of Covid: 'She wore the same mask for weeks, if not months' - The Guardian - October 8th, 2020
- Nobel awarded to Charles Rice for hepatitis C discoveries at Washington University School of Medicine Washington University School of Medicine -... - October 8th, 2020
- Warrior M.D. Chat: What to Expect - School of Medicine - Wayne State University - The South End - October 8th, 2020
- Hershey Medical Center: Celebrating 50 years of people helping people - Penn State News - October 8th, 2020
- UMass Medical School-affiliated study finds federal rule will negatively impact immigrant health care - Worcester Business Journal - October 1st, 2020
- Medical school class writes own Hippocratic Oath acknowledging racism, Covid-19 deaths and the killing of Breonna Taylor - CNN - October 1st, 2020
- Just what the doctor ordered - Isaac accepted to med school - Jamaica Gleaner - October 1st, 2020
- These medical students just wrote their own Hippocratic oath. Here's what it says. - The Daily Briefing - October 1st, 2020
- Maryland researchers identify what works to help children avoid obesity - WTOP - October 1st, 2020
- Call It What It Is in-Training, the online peer-reviewed publication for medical students - Pager Publications, Inc. - October 1st, 2020
- Medical Education market seeking excellent growth | Stanford University School of Medicine, GE Healthcare Institute, Zimmer Biomet Institute, Olympus... - October 1st, 2020
- Political newcomer Cameron Webb looks beyond party in 5th District bid - Fauquier Times - October 1st, 2020
- Irregular periods linked to a greater risk of an early death, study suggests - CNN - October 1st, 2020
- This biologist helped trace SARS to bats. Now, he's working to uncover the origins of COVID-19 - Science Magazine - October 1st, 2020