Becoming an Emergency Medicine Destination of Choice for Women

I’ve been an attending physician in emergency medicine in or around our nation’s capital for the last 16 years. Throughout my career as an African American woman, whether in academia or in leadership meetings, I have often been the only one. I’ve been the only woman often and even more frequently the only African-American.

It would be overstating to say that this has been ideal or always comfortable. I’ve gotten quite used to it, actually, and have followed my passions in emergency medicine and life generally in ways such that being the only has become mostly background noise as I go through my day.

Statistics suggest that my path to success has not been everyone’s path, however. If choosing gender to focus on, despite the fact that women are now 40% of American emergency medicine residency classes, when you take a broad view of the marketplace, we are under-represented in both academic and private EM groups. We are often under-represented as full-time work-staff and are markedly under-represented in leadership positions.

That is about to change.

In a bold move towards changing the landscape of emergency medicine and acute care services including observation medicine, hospitalist medicine and urgent care services, my emergency medicine group, MEP Health, has become one of six founding member groups of US Acute Care Solutions.

We are joined by EMP, headquartered in Ohio and serving locations nationwide, Tampa Bay Emergency Physicians of Florida, Emergency Physicians at Porter Hospitals, APEX Emergency Physician and ERGENTUS all of Denver.

US Acute Care Solutions is now the fourth largest emergency medicine group in the country. While other healthcare groups continue to debate business models to try and survive, we are thriving thanks to a shared culture where physician ownership not only leads to better patient care but leads to clear company policies that reflect the wants and needs of the workforce.

Recognizing that statistics favor more lucrative business outcomes when diversity marks both leadership and workforce, part of our business plan is to make USACS the emergency medicine Destination of Choice for Women. This will likely be a game changer for women in emergency medicine.

Did you know that EBIT margins at more diverse companies are 14% higher than in the least diverse companies? Did you know that gender-diverse business units have better financial outcomes than those dominated by one gender to the tune of up to 46% higher increases in comparable revenue? We do.

What does this mean? It means that USACS has a Diversity and Inclusion Council that is actively re-imagining policy as it builds best practices for the company at every turn. It means that management, networking and support for women and minorities will be strikingly different when comparing this company to others. It means that, going forward, everyone has an opportunity to be at the helm of decision-making as this year-old company strives to be a striking differentiator in the marketplace. We are actively pursuing building a company that considers both clinical staff and the bottom line, and unique opportunities to structure the business are occurring with leadership opportunities around every corner.

In these initial stages, clinicians are taking time away from clinical work and away from family to gather and discuss what would make it easier to be a fantastic contributor in the workplace while maintaining great consideration and respect for our roles at home.

We know that we will have the best emergency medicine fully paid parental leave policy in the United States. We know that we will consider the time prior to parental leave and post parental leave and have policies in place that are considerate of new parents. We know that a spousal or adoptive parent needs consideration and paid leave and it is being built into policy.

What if we consider what childcare considerations might look like when we think of obligatory meetings? What if we are clear on every level of our hospital leadership that a breastfeeding policy is important to us? What if we build a networking system where other women leaders within the company support and engage new women in leadership in a grass-roots and consistent way? What if on a yearly basis the status and company demographics are examined for progress so that we know how the company is progressing?

These are the kinds of questions we are exploring to ensure we are building a better company for the future: for our providers and partners, but most of all for our patients.

Editor’s note: USACS currently has EM positions open around the country. We aim to be the Destination of Choice in Emergency Medicine for Women. Find out more about what our company offers EM clinicians.