Why Doctors Need to Know About Military Medicine; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD

Disclosures

February 17, 2016

In This Article

You've Come a Long Way, Female Physicians

From a lone Elizabeth Blackwell in 1831 to over one third of the physician population, the ranks of female medical practitioners have been on the slow but steady rise. A full 33%of physicians today are women, up from 27% in 2008 and 12% in 1981, according to a Physicians Foundation survey.[7]

The increasing numbers seem poised to change the face of medicine. Survey data from over 200,000 physicians in all 50 states found that roughly one half of medical students are women, who tend to pursue careers as primary care practitioners. The study revealed that the profession's female constituency shares greater optimism about healthcare today compared with its male counterpart, as well as trepidation about certain aspects of reform, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and insurance exchanges, according to a commentary in Forbes by Physicians Foundation board member Jennifer Hanscom.[8]

The survey revealed the differences between female vs male physicians' views on the Affordable Care Act, with 64%/49% approval and 41%/28% uncertainty about the structure and purpose of ACOs. "A smaller percentage of female doctors participate in exchanges and more females compared to males are unsure of whether the exchanges feature a restricted network of providers," writes Hansom.

In support of the study findings that 72% of female physicians believe medicine is still a rewarding profession, she quotes colleague Claire Murphy MD, Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Resident at the University of Washington: "The passion is spreading as more women feel empowered to go to medical school. A slow, overall change in the culture of medicine is occurring, as women are no longer feeling at a disadvantage due to their gender."

Hospital Gowns and Gloves Contain Contaminants

When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), it seems that improper removal of the items can lead to problems. According to a study from the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center published in JAMA Internal Medicine,[9] 40% of healthcare workers contaminated themselves during PPE removal. In 70% of cases, the self-contamination to the neck and hands during gown and glove removal, respectively, was the result of improper removal technique.

On the plus side, the study showed, there was a relatively simple fix: The rate of self-contamination dropped by a whopping 68% after workers viewed a brief educational video on proper technique, in which they were able to observe where and how contamination took place through the use of fluorescent lotion. And the lesson stayed with study participants 3 months later, the study showed, without any follow-up training.

"A standardized training procedure for healthcare workers on the recommended techniques for donning and/or doffing gowns and gloves is long overdue," according to an accompanying commentary written by Michelle Doll, MD, and Gonzalo M. Bearman, MD, both of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. "The training should include educational context, proficiency monitoring, and feedback."[10]

The subject of contamination has garnered a great deal of global attention in the wake of recent Ebola and SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] outbreaks. Work remains to be done, note Doll and Bearman: "A standard, accepted, and validated training program has unfortunately not been developed, and debate remains as to what constitutes best practice for donning and doffing."

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