“Being a woman absolutely impacts my career. There's a component of having to fit in with the "boys club" - both in the operating room around our surgical colleagues and in my field of anesthesiology (which is still male dominated).”
In honor of National Women Physicians Day, Dr. Amanda Xi MD, an Anesthesiologist and Critical Care Fellow from Massachusetts shares with us how being a female physician has made a difference in her career and personal life, and some of the challenges she faces every day. #ThisFemPhysicianCan
WHY DID YOU GO INTO MEDICINE?
No one in my family was in medicine, but from a young age, I was drawn to the idea of caring for others. I majored in biomedical engineering in college and even worked as an engineer for a short period of time, but never felt like it was a good match. I knew the moment I started my clinical clerkships that medicine was the right environment and fit for me. Every day I have the privilege of caring for patients. Every day I have the opportunity to learn something new. Every day I get to teach those around me. It's the perfect job!
DOES BEING A WOMAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR CAREER? WHY?
Being a woman absolutely impacts my career. There's a component of having to fit in with the "boys club" - both in the operating room around our surgical colleagues and in my field of anesthesiology (which is still male dominated). I want to have children, but there's never a good time. Because of these challenges, when I was looking for my first attending job, I paid close attention to how women in the department were supported (or not). I'm happy to say that I found what I was looking for!
DO OTHER PATIENTS AND COLLEAGUES PERCEIVE YOU DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A WOMAN? HOW?
I distinctly remember working with a tall, male medical student during one of my anesthesiology rotations. In the preoperative area where we met our patients, I introduced myself as a physician and the medical student as such. While I was conducting my preoperative assessment, most of my patients looked to the medical student with their questions!
WHAT IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
When I was trying to date as a female physician, I found that there were many individuals not comfortable with my profession. Additionally, my schedule was difficult to schedule dates around; many people ended up assuming I was trying to blow them off because I rarely had time off.
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
In most settings, I have seen and have personally taken on "non-promotable" tasks frequently. These tasks tend to be administrative and do not ultimately contribute to advancement. Additionally, attire for female physicians in a professional setting is always a challenge - you're either dressing in a "scandalous" manner or you're too conservative. People always make comments about how women dress, but rarely about how men dress.
WHAT CAN (and DO) YOU DO THAT HELPS EMPOWER YOU TO BE THE BEST FEMALE PHYSICIAN YOU CAN BE?
I share my real experiences as a female physician and trainee through my Instagram and blog. I am very active in the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) and mentor premedical and medical students. I try my best to promote the women I work alongside and also advocate for myself.