With the number of diabetics increasing in the United States, a growing disparity in the gender of endocrinology trainees may be of concern given the bias and challenges faced by female physicians in the U.S., University of Wisconsin researchers reported in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The American endocrinology workforce is shifting, the study found, and while 56 percent of practicing endocrinologists are now men, more than 70 percent of endocrinologists in training are women. Likewise, 72 percent of all physicians entering endocrinology programs in 2013 were women.
Dr. Elaine Pelley, in a university news release, said the finding was of concern because female physicians in the U.S. face challenges related to professional advancement, salary equity, and work-life balance.
She called the study “a wake-up call for our field. … In order for us to meet the needs of our patients, we must create an environment that facilitates the professional success of female physicians. A thriving physician workforce will be key to attracting trainees of both genders to the specialty.”
An analysis of national data also revealed that, over a period of four years, male applicants to the endocrinology training programs declined by 43 percent and female applicants by 12 percent.
“The data reflect declining interest in endocrinology among men rather than attracting more women” Dr. Pelley said. “Financial factors may play a role. Men have been found to weigh earning potential more highly when choosing a specialty. Training as an endocrinologist currently does not provide any salary advantage over entering primary care directly out of residency.”
By identifying trends shaping the endocrinology healthcare workforce, Dr. Pelley hopes the study will encourage proactive initiatives that re-establish a sustainable balance of genders within the specialty. Previous studies assessing the field of medicine overall have shown higher rates of professional burnout among female as opposed to male physicians.
Endocrinology involves the diagnosis and prevention of diseases related to the body glands and hormones, including diabetes, which is characterized by a deregulation in insulin production and use.