February 3rd is known as National Women Physicians Day. Historically, the date is significant as the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States back in 1849. Following the publication of a widely-shared survey study of physician mothers on discrimination in JAMA and the tireless work of Physician Moms Group (PMG), the date was finally declared a national holiday in 2016.
Unfortunately, some healthcare institutions didn't quite get the memo that it's National Women Physicians Day, not National Women Midlevels Day. Case in point: this now-deleted post and video published on the Facebook page of the St. Francis Campus of the University of Kansas Health System in Topeka, KS. (Unfortunately for them, the Internet is forever.) Apparently, in today's culture of participation trophies, political correctness, and inclusion at all costs regardless of rank, aptitude, education, training, or experience, this hospital unilaterally decided to redefine the word "physician" to also include midlevel providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
In our analysis of St. Francis' video, the first half features a montage of 14 physicians, one-by-one. Unfortunately, the rest of the 2-minute video (beginning around the 1:09 mark) is essentially a 2×3 parade of midlevel providers, including nurse practitioners, midwives (CNMs), and physician assistants, for a total of 42 midlevels by our count. Given that women only make up a little more than a third of the physician workforce, yet account for 72 percent of physician assistants and 82 percent of nurse practitioners, we find it highly offensive and ethically inappropriate that a hospital that is part of a system as large as the University of Kansas would publish a video on National Women Physicians Day that literally features three times as many non-physician midlevel providers as actual physicians, especially when all the major (female-dominated) midlevel professions get an entire fucking week of recognition:
- National Physician Assistant Week, every year from October 6-12
- National Nurse Practitioner Week, every year in November
- National CRNA Week, every year in January
And you can damn well bet your annual salary that the midlevels will be clamoring to be recognized, again, during their respective weeks above. To make matters worse, we've observed discussion stating that several female physicians at St. Francis weren't even included in the video, particularly among the emergency physicians and hospitalists. Given the inclusion of almost four dozen midlevels, one has to wonder if this was a deliberate oversight rather than an honest mistake. Is it really that much to ask, then, that our beloved women physicians get their one day to celebrate in peace without being lumped in with non-physician midlevel providers with far less knowledge, training, and experience? Who didn't go to medical school, didn't toil through 80-week hour weeks in residency, and didn't complete subspecialty fellowships, all while potentially delaying or sacrificing family relationships and the potential joys of being a mother in pursuit of their medical career? Jesus fucking Christ, University of Kansas. We know you're located in a state that's pretty ass-backward sometimes, but at least try to get with the times, will you?