The Women in Intensive Care Medicine Network (WIN) was formed in 2015, with the aim of improving the gender balance in Australasian intensive care medicine through research, advocacy and networking.
But why was WIN established? How many female doctors actually work in intensive care medicine in Australia?
The Medical Training Review Panel reports data directly from Australasian specialty colleges regarding their fellows and trainees. In 2015, 17.1% of CICM fellows and 32.1% of CICM advanced trainees were female. In comparison, 51% of medical school graduates were women in 2015. Intensive care medicine is included in a list of “…specialties that consistently had a lower proportion of female trainees…”. There are even fewer women in leadership positions within intensive care medicine. Women make up only 10.5% of Clinical Directors of ICUs accredited by the CICM in 2016. There are only 4 women out of 18 members of the CICM board and just one woman sitting on the ANZICS board (15 members).
So, what’s the big deal – why does this matter?
The bottom line is that gender diversity is essential to ensure we can achieve the best outcomes for our patients and is imperative for the sustainability of our specialty. Sure, it is promising that the proportion of female trainees is higher than the proportion of female CICM fellows. However we need to work to ensure this translates to more female intensivists in the future, and importantly, improved female representation in leadership positions within our specialty. We cannot produce the best intensivists by drawing upon only half the cohort of medical students, and we cannot attract the highest quality leaders by recruiting from half the pool of clinicians. There’s good reason to think that our patients could benefit from an improved gender balance in the ICU workforce. In the business world, improving gender diversity on company leadership teams leads to increased profit margins. New evidence even suggests that the patients of female doctors have better outcomes than patients of male doctors.
So what’s WIN doing about it?
- Research (“In God we trust. For all others, bring data”)
- Advocacy and representation
- Advocating to CICM regarding part time positions and parental leave provisions for trainees.
- Encouraging female trainees and intensivists to nominate for leadership roles in intensive care medicine.
- Engaging in conferences, e.g. debating ‘That the Part Time Intensivist will be the death of intensive care medicine.’ at the ANZICS/ACCCN ASM 2016
- Regular educational dinners
- Networking events at critical care conferences