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The Changing Face of Medicine: Women Doctors and the Evolution of Health Care in America

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Overview

The number of women practicing medicine in the United States has grown steadily since the late 1960s, with women now roughly at parity with men among entering medical students. Why did so many women enter American medicine? How are women faring, professionally and personally, once they become physicians? Are women transforming the way medicine is practiced?

To answer these questions, The Changing Face of Medicine draws on a wide array of sources, including interviews with women physicians and surveys of medical students and practitioners. The analysis is set in the twin contexts of a rapidly evolving medical system and profound shifts in gender roles in American society.

Throughout the book, Ann K. Boulis and Jerry A. Jacobs critically examine common assumptions about women in medicine. For example, they find that women's entry into medicine has less to do with the decline in status of the profession and more to do with changes in women's roles in contemporary society. Women physicians' families are becoming more and more like those of other working women. Still, disparities in terms of specialty, practice ownership, academic rank, and leadership roles endure, and barriers to opportunity persist. Along the way, Boulis and Jacobs address a host of issues, among them dual-physician marriages, specialty choice, time spent with patients, altruism versus materialism, and how physicians combine work and family.

Women's presence in American medicine will continue to grow beyond the 50 percent mark, but the authors question whether this change by itself will make American medicine more caring and more patient centered. The future direction of the profession will depend on whether women doctors will lead the effort to chart a new course for health care delivery in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The number of women entering medical school and residency and practicing medicine in the United States has grown steadily over the past four decades. The Changing Face of Medicine is an exploration of multiple aspects of this change, including societal developments, immigration, economics, and the women's movement. . . . This book will allow educators, administrations, reformers, and representatives of funding sources—as well as future physicians—to understand how American medicine came to be as it is now."—Bonnie J. Dattel, MD, New England Journal of Medicine

"In 2009, half of all newly minted physicians will be female; in 1969 that figure was fewer than one in ten. In their detailed, data-driven portrait of the dramatic rise of women in medicine, Ann Boulis and Jerry Jacobs do an excellent job of explaining both the reasons for the trend toward numerical equality among physicians and its key consequences. They argue that women entered medicine primarily because broad barriers were lifted—not, as others have suggested, because women were more willing than men to accept (or contributed to) occupational status decline. In addition, as practicing physicians, women differ little from men in their overall patterns of care, and as future leaders of the profession they are unlikely to exhibit much difference in leadership style."—Forrest Briscoe, Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"I have seen firsthand how one mother struggled with the delicate balance between work and family and now, more than three decades later, I can truly appreciate the obstacles she overcame. Today, I wonder if it will be any better for my two daughters. Ann K. Boulis and Jerry A. Jacobs have written a must-read for any woman considering the medical profession! It will also make men sit up and take notice."—Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

'This well-conceived and soundly organized book makes an important contribution to our understanding of a range of gender aspects of the past, present and future of American medicine. It will be of interest to a wide audience, from social scientists and health policy makers to physicians, medical students, and other health professionals."—Mike Saks, University of Lincoln

"In The Changing Face of Medicine, Ann K. Boulis and Jerry A. Jacobs draw on a compelling mix of hard data and personal anecdote to provide a clear and comprehensive analysis of how women as physicians shape the practice of medicine, and in turn, how the practice of medicine shapes these women."—Katrina S. Firlik, MD, neurosurgeon and author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside

"Over the past quarter century medicine has experienced a gender revolution with the number of medical school entrants among young women now nearly equaling that of men. In this impressive and beautifully written book, Ann Boulis and Jerry Jacobs use both quantitative data and rich in-depth interviews to understand the cause of this transformation and to understand how women have changed the way medicine is practiced. As they document the pathways women pursue to become physicians, they challenge the conventional wisdom that gender differences in medicine result from choices of individual women and instead show how gendered institutions channel women's specialty choices and type of practice. The Changing Face of Medicine is a marvelous contribution to gender studies and medical sociology."—Jill Quadagno, author of One Nation, Uninsured: Why the US Has No National Health Insurance.

"This comprehensive and illuminating report on the current status of women physicians and their impact on American medicine will surprise and educate you. Health care teachers, students, and researchers will want to read this book and mine it for important data on gender and medical care in the United States today."—Judith Lorber, Professor Emerita, Graduate Center and Brooklyn College, CUNY, author of Women Physicians: Careers, Status, and Power and Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change

Library Journal

Has the medical profession changed with the increase of women in the field? Have women settled into "low-status" specialties or brought a "heritage of nurturance" into the profession? Does a physician's gender make a difference in the treatment of gender-specific diseases? Boulis (sociology, Univ. of Pennsylvania) and Jacobs (sociology, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Revolving Doors: Sex Segregation and Women's Careers) here pose these and many other questions. Fairly similar in tone to Ellen S. More's academic Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995, this book is nevertheless readable and brings the topic up-to-date. Boulis and Jacobs focus on the United States and use data from a variety of sources, including the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Medical Association, and Gallup polls, described in detail in the appendix. A small number of entries quoted from MomMD (www.mommd.com), a social-networking site for women in medicine, add personal insights. There are charts, graphs, and extensive notes for each of the nine chapters. Recommended for large public libraries; medical, women's studies, and business libraries; and academic libraries supporting those programs. (Index not seen.)
—Martha E. Stone

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Feminization of an Evolving Profession
3 Applying for Change
4 The Gendered Map of Contemporary Medicine
5 Gender, Sorting, and Tracking
6 Work, Family, Marriage, and Generational Change
7 Women Physicians Caring for Patients
8 Medicine as a Family-Friendly Profession?
9 Conclusion: A Prognosis for Gender and Medical Care

Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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