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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Women at the top, families in training

Dr. Nancy Andrews, who earlier this year left Harvard Medical School to become the first female dean of the Duke University School of Medicine, asks why it’s still big news when a woman takes the top post in academic medicine.

Writing in tomorrow’s New England Journal of Medicine, she answers her own question. Only 14 of 124 US medical school deans are women, and the pipeline for leadership at the department chair level is almost empty, despite similar numbers of men and women graduating from medical school.

“If institutions are to accelerate the emergence of more female deans, then they will need to consider women who have not stepped on every rung of the traditional academic career ladder,” she writes.

The article that follows Andrews’ essay takes a look earlier in medical careers, focusing on family leave policies for male and female doctors during their residency programs.

Dr. Reshma Jagsi of the University of Michigan and Dr. Nancy J. Tarbell and Dr. Debra F. Weinstein, both of Harvard Medical School, say while federal law allows family leave, policies set by graduate programs and medical-specialty boards can make that unworkable if they require training to be completed within a fixed time frame.

“It is unrealistic and inappropriate to expect trainees to delay childbearing or to forgo spending critical time with their infants,” they write. “We therefore need new solutions.”

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:18 PM
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