Locally and nationally, women make up about a third of the physician workforce. But that is changing as today's medical students become tomorrow's doctors. Women make up roughly half the class in U.S. medical schools today.
"That's particularly true in the OB-GYN specialty, where many female students are drawn by women's health issues," said Della Shaw, Chief Operating Officer of Sarasota Memorial's First Physicians Group.
Some medical schools are reporting that as many as 80-90 percent of students enrolling in that specialty are women.
In recent months, Sarasota Memorial welcomed two new female physicians – Kelly Hamel, MD (OB-GYN) and Elizabeth Jungst, MD (Internal Medicine) – back to Sarasota County into two First Physician Group practices. Both women have roots in the community – Dr. Hamel graduated from high school here, she served as a volunteer in Sarasota Memorial's health system and returned after completing her medical training and residency. Dr. Jungst grew up in the area, her family lives here, and her father is director of the pharmacy at Sarasota Memorial.
Dr. Hamel completed her medical degree, internship and residency at the University of South Florida. She joins six other OB-GYNs in First Physicians Group, which includes one other female OB-GYN, Ruth Dyal, MD.
Dr. Jungst earned her medical degree from the University of Florida and completed her internship and residency at the University of Cincinnati. She joins 31 other internal medicine physicians in First Physicians Group, which includes eight other female internal medicine specialists.
And though Shaw is happy to see more women entering the field – because it gives patients more choice while helping to address a serious nationwide shortage of primary care physicians – she says there's absolutely no difference in the quality of care provided by men versus women.
"When it comes to picking a doctor, you should never base your decision on gender alone," she said. "It's really the skill and accessibility of your doctor and the caring relationship he or she builds with patients that really matters."
Facts about the nationwide physician shortage: • Florida is among several states that released physician work force studies in 2008, documenting a current and worsening shortage of primary care physicians in this state. The Florida Dept. of Health's 2008 Florida Physician Workforce Annual Report is available online at: (www.doh.state.fl.us/rw_bulletins/workforcerept08.pdf)
• Nationally, surveys show that the situation likely is going to get worse as aging baby boomers and a 50 percent drop in number of medical graduates entering residencies in family medicine and internal medicine make it more difficult for people to find medical care.
• A 2008 Institute of Medicine report said there will not be enough geriatricians when the 78 million baby boomers begin to turn 65 in 2011.
About Sarasota Memorial First Physician's Group: First Physicians Group is a network of more than 50 primary and specialty physicians backed by resources of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the region's only public hospital and health care system. Specialties include: Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Family Practice, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Gynecology-Oncology and Geriatrics. For information about the group, people may call (941) 917-8720 or visit firstphysiciansgroup.com Date Published: February 26, 2009
Media Contact: Kim Savage
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System