More women in med school; still get paid less than men

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The number of women enrolled at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is increasing.

A 2019 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges said for the first time ever there are more women then men in medical school. The national average for females in medical school is 50.5%

The study said 45.7% of USD students for the 2019-2020 school year are women.

The national average is 50.5%. That’s an increase of 49.5% from 2018. The average was 46.9% in 2015.


While the percentage of women enrolled in medical school increased in the U.S., fewer women than men are applied to USD for the 2019-2020 school year.

USD had 836 applicants for the 2019-2020 school year. Of the applicants, 47.6% were female and 52.4% were male.

The number of female versus male applicants is similar at some neighboring medical schools.

The University of Iowa had 3,879 applicants. Of those applicants, 44.7% were female. The university has a 50-50 split between female and male students for the school year.

The University of North Dakota medical school had 1,718 applicants. Of those, 47.2% were women.  Women made up 41.6% of the enrolled students.

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, had 6,375 applicants and 45.3% of those were women.  Of its enrolled students, 50.6% are women.

The University of Nebraska in Lincoln had 1,590 applicants and 45.7% were women. Of its enrolled students, 49.2% are women.

The University of Minnesota Mayo Medical School in Rochester had 7,265 applicants and 46.2% were women. The university’s enrollment is 51% female.

The University of Minnesota’s overall medical school program other than Mayo had 5,561 applicants and 49.6% of those were female. Women made up 54.2% of the enrollment.

The overall makeup of the 142 residents at USD Sanford is 72 female students and 70 male students.

Although there are more women in medical school, chances are when they graduate they will earn less than men.

Studies show that in most categories of medical practice, if not all, women make less than men.

In many cases of research, it’s the doctors themselves reporting the pay to reveal the inequities.

A 2019 study by Doximity, an online network of medical professionals, said that on average male doctors earn $1.25 for every $1 earned by women. 

USD said that of its female residents, 16 chose family medicine or psychiatry while 13 chose internal medicine or pediatrics. The rest chose specialties of pathology, cardiovascular, general surgery, geriatrics, transitional year or family medicine.

South Dakota had 2,121 active doctors, including 674 female doctors, in 2018, the 2019 State Physician Workforce Data Report said. The most were in family medicine/general practice at 188. Eighty-one were in internal medicine, 62 in obstetrics and gynecology, and 58 in pediatrics. The remainder were in other practices, except none were practicing in cardiovascular care or orthopedics.

A 2019 Medscape study showed the male primary care physicians earn 25% more than females. The income was $258,000 compared to $207,000 for women.

The gap did decrease in specialty pay from 36% in 2018 to a 33% difference between men and women. Men were paid $372,000 in specialty practice compared to $280,000 for women.

Specialty practices were identified as plastic surgery, orthopedics, internal medicine and similar. Medscape said while women tended to choose lower paying specialties than higher paying ones such as plastic surgery, orthopedics, cardiology and urology, that doesn’t explain the overall disparity in specialty pay.

Additional research by Dr. Malgorzata Skaznik-Wikiel, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and others show similar pay gaps between female and male doctors. 

Several studies prompted the  Association of Women Surgeons to release a formal statement on the gender pay equity gap. “Women in academic medicine make 90 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Although this salary gender gap is not as large as the 82 cents per dollar noted in the overall US Economy 21 it reflects inequities in compensation, and must be addressed. If change continues at the current slow rate, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152,” the statement said.

But there are some indications that doctors who practice in rural areas, including South Dakota and in neighboring states, may be getting paid more than those who practice in some urban areas. 

Research called “ Income and Age Profiles of Urban and Rural Physicians in the United States conducted through the University of Chicago  shows “that rural physicians have higher incomes, lower housing costs, and shorter commutes than urban physicians.”

A 2018 study by Merritt Hawkins on healthcare recruitment said the Midwest and Great Plains ranked high when it came to pay for psychiatry, family practice, radiology and internal medicine, which were listed as top areas of recruitment. The salary list did not breakdown male versus female pay. Merritt Hawkins is a physician recruiting and consulting firm.

Despite higher pay, rural areas have about a third fewer physicians per capita than the nation as a whole, the University of Chicago study said. And most rural doctors are men.

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