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How to Recruit and Retain Female Medical Specialists

Analysis  |  By Lena J. Weiner  
   December 12, 2016

A cardiologist recommends salary transparency, networking opportunities, and checking assumptions about what women want.

It's no secret that female healthcare professionals face multiple barriers professionally, especially in male-dominated specialties. Cardiology is one example:

  • The number of cardiologists overall was estimated to be about 31,500 in 2013. Less than 12% of cardiologists are women, according to The American College of Cardiology.
  • In a recent ACC survey of more than 2,000 female cardiologists, 63% said they have experienced discrimination or have been passed over for a promotion.

Toniya Singh, MD, an invasive, non-interventional cardiologist and managing partner at St. Louis Heart and Vascular in Missouri, aims to change that. Singh is working to promote groups where female clinicians can network, support each other, and create change within the profession.

In October 2016, she founded a chapter of the Women in Cardiology (WIC) section of The American College of Cardiology.

Recently, Singh spoke with HealthLeaders Media about her experiences and the difference that groups can make in the lives of women working in healthcare. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

HLM: Talk about your experiences as a female physician working in this male-dominated specialty.

Singh: I went to an all-girls medical school in India where they taught us to think and do things very independently. So I "grew up" in medical school surrounded by women who were all very motivated and excited to be doing what they were doing.

Study Offers Young Doctors Strategies to Deal with Discrimination

Then I moved to the United States, and the differences were a surprise to me.

People here make assumptions about female physicians, such as that because you were a woman and married, you wouldn't want to work too hard, or that if you had children, you would want to work part-time.


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Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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