3 Key Ways to Promote Success for Women in Healthcare
Women who are considering their options for healthcare jobs, whether it’s a promotion or a career change, might be wondering how far up the ladder they can go. It’s a valid question.
Where are all the professional women in healthcare?
Rock Health carried out some research on the statistics, and this is what they found:
“Despite making up more than half the healthcare workforce, women represent only 21% of executives and 21% of board members at Fortune 500 healthcare companies. Of the 125 women who carry an executive title, only five serve in operating roles as COO or President. And there’s only one woman CEO of a Fortune 500 healthcare company.”
The facts are disheartening, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest barriers for women in healthcare in taking on senior roles, and what can be done to make a change.
Role Models in Hospital Jobs
It’s hard to aspire to something when you can’t see others already making a success of it. The “I want to do that when I grow up” moment doesn’t happen as often for girls when there are so few women in senior healthcare roles to help them visualize it.
Women go on to senior management without these influences, but finding inspiration is an important factor all the same.
This is why networking is vital for women who want to see greater opportunity in senior healthcare management jobs. Networking with other women who already have seniority in health professions can provide that missing role model.
The WHCM (Women in Healthcare Management) has operated with much success in this area. Elaine Ullian, former president and CEO of the Boston Medical Center, says in a WHCM testimonial:
“My entire career trajectory was shaped by Women in Health Care Management. It is where I learned to speak up and advocate for myself. It was an environment that provided unconditional support and commitment to help each other advance in our respective careers.”
Such groups rely on women who have already made it to the top, taking time out to reiterate everything they learned along the way and share it with those just starting out.
The Importance of Mentors in Healthcare Training
Group networking and one-to-one relationships with women in top medical management jobs are beneficial for women at every stage of their career development:
- Undergraduate students considering graduate or medical school
- Graduates looking for jobs in allied health careers or other areas
- Young women in healthcare certification programs
- Women in hospital administration jobs who want to move up the ranks
- Female middle management staff who are looking to progress
Finding a mentor to encourage you and offer advice is common practice; it involves finding somebody in your field who is willing to give you their time and attention for free. This generous yet responsible act can not only help to advance professional education, but also enrich understanding of the American healthcare institution in general.
Every two years, Modern Healthcare magazine compiles a list of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare, and one of the criteria these senior female professionals are judged on is that they “demonstrated a willingness to share expertise with others in the field.”
If you feel this may be a good route for you to take, then read the following guidance from Carol Baffi-Dugan and Robert Hung on finding and working with a mentor.
Better Work-Life Balance
One of the biggest challenges for women is the difficulty involved in juggling work and family. Often, it is women as child bearers who take time off or move from full-time to part-time work to take care of young children, which can have an impact on their careers.
In an article called Can Doctors Have Work-Life Balance?, Time spoke to medical students to find out if this is the reality:
“I often meet physicians who tell me it’s possible to have both a family and a career, but for the most part, they are men with wives who have made the tough decision to work part-time for them. The women I have met have painted a more pragmatic picture — you can have what you want, just not all of it.” –Alexandra Charrow, student
Finding the right work-life balance, especially for female healthcare professionals, can be quite a challenge. This is a challenge, however, that should be shared between employers and employees, and men and women. This should not be a challenge that is faced by female employees alone. Better work-life balance leads to more productive employees and a better overall work environment. And more productive female employees lead to more opportunities for women to grow in the healthcare field.
It stands to reason that all healthcare professionals must support the breaking down of traditional barriers of opportunity for women, so that conditions can improve for everyone.
If you want to impact this kind of discussion within the healthcare industry and are eager to make your mark, here are the 12 Fastest Growing Allied Health Careers in 2015 to consider.