Diversity and Impediments to Individual Physician Wellness
The stressful demands of medicine already predispose physicians to burnout, but being a woman, a minority, or identifying as part of the LGBTQIA population can increase an individual’s risk for burnout. On top of dealing with the typical workplace stressors, these individuals face the additional obstacle of contending with overt prejudice, subconscious bias and microaggressions, and systems that do not historically reward their race or gender.
For instance, women physicians may face the assumption from patients that they are nurses or assistants and may be asked when “the doctor” is going to visit them. Women are also more likely than men to be the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and are less likely to report it due to the traditionally male hierarchies that exist in health care. And although women comprise the majority of the health care workforce, they occupy only about 13 percent of C-suite roles – with even fewer of these roles occupied by women of color. These obstacles can fuel burnout and cause female and minority physicians to leave the health care profession while also discouraging others of similar backgrounds from entering the field of medicine at all. Patient care and health care in general are ultimately strengthened when diverse voices are represented at all levels, which is why promoting inclusivity and creating an environment of wellness for everyone is so important.