Traditionally, medicine has been a male-dominated field. It is well known that before recent history most men were physicians. There are specialities that were stereotypically thought the be male specialities such as Surgery, anesthesiology, and Emergency Medicine. Others were more female-friendly specialities, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and OB/GYN. As a female snowboard bum, I already broke the traditional gender roles. Snowboarding is also a male-dominated sport, and just like medicine, it doesn’t have to be.
Having been surrounded by men and the only girl on the mountain most of my life made the misogynistic profession much less intimidating. In fact, I always revelled in the fact that I was one of the guys, and it didn’t surprise me one bit that I went into a heavily male dominate field. I am now an MD in my residency training to be an anaesthesiologist. A cerebral, procedural, and until recently, estrogen lacking speciality.
Thankfully, women are taking over the field of medicine. Not only have I witnessed women as equals in medicine, but medical school enrollment is often 60% female 40% male. My anesthesiology residency class, again a historically dominated field, is 57% female and 43% male. I am proud of the increased female representation in medicine, and I feel that it is a welcome and refreshing change to the field.
While the statistics for a female physician are becoming more and more favorable, the sad truth is that patients and society are much slower to adapt. The days of “that is a man’s job” are long but over. Despite society often not being prepared for a female predominant medical field, it’s happening before my eyes. Research has supported that female doctors are not only equal to our male counterparts, but often have better patient outcomes (see link below to reference one of many studies that support this).
Even more importantly, life doesn’t have to end once you become a physician. It is my firm belief that the best doctors and healthcare providers are the ones that take care of themselves and enjoy life outside of medicine. It is my mission to support my fellow women not only in medicine but also in pursuing outdoor adventure. I still snowboard, paddleboard, and hike regularly and would encourage anyone training in a stressful career to embrace their passions through the chaos. It isn’t easy, but life in medicine can be beautiful!
It is my firm belief that women can do anything they put their minds to, and medicine is absolutely one of those things. I’ve always said, shoot for the stars, you can fall from there! Women physicians aren’t the future, we are the NOW!!!
Kelsey Walton, MD