Advice for women considering a career in medicine: A qualitative study of women physicians' perspectives

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Work (Reading, Mass.)


BACKGROUND: Research has explored the problems that women encounter during a medical career; however, the advice that experienced women physicians would give to women who have not yet entered the field is needed to reveal how the medical work landscape is evolving and to provide real-world narratives to help career seekers make informed choices.

OBJECTIVE: By eliciting women's perspectives on their medical careers by asking them what advice they would give to aspiring women physicians. We aimed to reveal areas for improving career satisfaction of women physicians and to inform those who advise women considering a medical career.

METHODS: In this qualitative study, we used a phenomenological approach to conduct semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 24 women physicians to query the advice they would give to women contemplating a career in medicine.

RESULTS: Thematic analysis of interview transcriptions revealed 10 themes that women physicians communicated as being important to consider before deciding to become a physician. Although some advice had a cautionary tone, encouraging and practical advice was also conveyed. The most abundant themes concerned the centrality of patient care, a passion for practicing medicine, and the importance of planning. Other key topics included family and friends, self-reflection, life balance, finances, ethics, maintaining presence, and two overt cautionary statements.

CONCLUSION: Interviews revealed that meaning and purpose derived from a medical career and maintaining work-life balance are valued by some women physicians. Participants were encouraging in recommending medicine as a career choice for women, while highlighting some challenges.

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ePub ahead of print