It's 2021, and women physicians are still facing unfair challenges. From pay gaps and work-life balance to continued bias and lack of women in leadership positions, female physicians are confronting obstacles daily. However, our women physicians are super human-- balancing multiple roles and exceeding in all. They are continuing to overcome, and we are here in full support. 

It is important we have conversations that highlight the continued challenges our women physicians are facing. We need to bring awareness and change the narrative.

We reached out to some of our women radiologists to learn more about why they became a physician, the challenges they have faced, and what still needs to change for women physicians moving forward.

View their responses below, then meet all of our women physicians here.

 

Dr. Cheri Canoncanon 0720

What do you think is a common misconception people have regarding women physicians?

I’m afraid some believe the gender salary gap in medicine is because women physicians do not work as hard or are less driven than their male counterparts, that they have other priorities, or that they contribute less to their respective teams. While women do still bear the greater burden for work in the home and childcare, their “work” at work is equal to that of men.

What are some continued challenges that women physicians face today? What do you think needs to be done to address and eliminate these challenges?

The underpinning of so many challenges for women is implicit bias, and until we address this, we will fall short of bridging these gaps. We need more women in leadership positions! That is a key, but not the only part of the solution.

 

milner desmin 1740549187Dr. Desmin Milner

What was a challenge you faced as a woman physician?

I am a diagnostic radiologist which is a male dominated specialty; women only represent about 30% of the workforce in my specialty despite the fact that women make up a little over 50% of students enrolled into medical schools in the United States. I am a minority in my field both by race, being African American, and by gender. By being a minority within my specialty and in healthcare overall, sometimes people assume that your personal perspective and viewpoints speak for all people within that subgroup. When in actuality, no matter the gender, race, sexuality, etc., we all come from different walks of life and have different life experiences that shape us into the people we are today. We can all learn from each other if we take the time to view the world from another person’s eyes.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of women physicians?

I hope to see more women in top leadership positions throughout healthcare organizations. As I alluded to before, over one half of medical school classes are made up of women today and we are all extremely proud of this progression over time. However, as you begin to climb the leadership ladder, that number steadily drops off. For example, in diagnostic radiology, despite being about 30% of the workforce, women only make up 17% of the department chairs. I think there is a lot more work to do in this realm to explore these inequities in medicine.

 

Dr. Jeong Mi ParkPark Breast

What was a challenge you faced as a woman physician?

To pursue family happiness and quality work at the same time. I think I really owe a lot to my family, my husband, and my kids. I was not a good daughter or sister when I was a medical student and a trainee. I have never been a good wife because of the work duties. I have never been a good mother for the same reason. I could not be myself today without their sacrifice. That makes me feel guilty from time to time. But one thing for sure is; I always tried my best. And they acknowledge that, thankfully!

Do you have any advice for other girls or women who desire to become a physician?

Be confident, independent, healthy, and happy.

 

Caridi IRDr. Theresa Caridi

Do you have any advice for other girls or women who desire to become a physician?

Don’t overthink it. Not only are there many different specialties within medicine but there are also such a wide variety of practice models even within each specialty. You can make it what you want.


What are some continued challenges that women physicians face today? What do you think needs to be done to address and eliminate these challenges?

It’s in vogue to recognize and discuss diversity challenges and efforts. However, I find that many talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Women are faced with different challenges than our male colleagues, some of which are “taboo”, and the only way to tackle these challenges is by having leaders who emulate supportive behavior (fortunately we do have these at UAB Radiology!).

 

singhal 2Dr. Aparna Singhal

Why did you choose to become a physician?

As cliché’ as it may sound, I think a big part of every physician’s motivation is to help other people and I too wanted to be in a profession where I was able to make the best use of my abilities and help others.

What do you think is a common misconception people have regarding women physicians?

One common misconception that I have noted through the experiences of many women physicians is to not be recognized as the leading physician of a healthcare team and being mistaken for another member, despite having introduced themselves as such. People can sometimes hold a narrow view of what a physician should look like, and at times that does not include a woman physician. This problem is further compounded for those with some intersectional identities. Often a different demographics’ physician is preferred, regardless of how well trained and accomplished a woman physician may be, and that is not ok in this day and age. I think such misconceptions are a big reason why a National Women Physicians Day needed to be instituted to recognize and celebrate women physicians and also highlight these inequities in order to address them.

 

Dr. Desiree Morganmorgan

What do you think is a common misconception people have regarding women physicians?

Misconceptions about women physicians have certainly changed in the years I have been practicing medicine. When I interviewed for medical school, I was asked why I wanted to take up a precious spot in medical school knowing that I was attending simply to meet a physician husband…. we have come a long way! I would turn this question upside down and ask why should anyone have any misconceptions about women being physicians? There is only truth. Women make up more than half of medical school classes, and while there are some clusters of specialties that seem to attract women practitioners (perhaps because of perceived lifestyle, patient populations, or synergy with their personal health priorities like reproductive rights), as physicians, women are involved in all disciplines of clinical practice, in basic, translational, and clinical research. If we drive the healthcare workforce to consider important issues like work-life integration, parental leave, inclusion, teamwork, and the “softer” side of medical practice, then all of us, all people, will benefit. This fundamental change in consideration of wellness (“physician heal thyself”) permits all of us deliver the highest level of clinical practice, no matter our gender, identity, or our roles in our families and communities.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of women physicians?

For my daughters, one who is already a (resident) physician, and the other, who is currently applying to medical school, my waking dream for them is one where they will be judged by their knowledge, work ethic, compassion, drive, and earnest efforts to ease the burden of disease and positively affect the lives of their patients IN FULL STRIDE and ALONGSIDE their colleagues, again, no matter their gender or identity, race, religion, nationality or dare I say politics? We need to rise above those labels as negatives or barriers. I have the same hope for my son, also a physician in training. I say waking dream because I don’t just hope it or dream it. I work every day in my roles as a physician, teacher, and leader to sponsor women and men, to mentor women and men, to coach women and men, to work towards this culture of where you come from matters because your story is important, but it also does not matter because we are all considered equal. As I write this, I am aware that to really be inclusive I need to learn to say women, men, and nonbinary, demonstrating that there is always room for improvement. We may not always get it right but ultimately, if we can achieve this as a profession and society, respect will rule the day. Every woman physician my age has had to endure moments of disrespect. That is done and that is old news. In a world of respect, where I hope my children will practice medicine, scientific discovery and care for both the populations we serve and individual patients will benefit from our achievement of this respectful culture.

 

Meet Our Women Physicians