Mentor: Dr. Karen Van Gundy, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Beyond Reproductive Health: The Understanding of Women's Health by Students and Faculty of Medical/Healthcare Professions
In Fifth Report: Women and Medicine, the Council on Graduate Medical Education determined that one of the reasons why women receive poorly coordinated care for their routine and comprehensive health concerns is because of deficiencies in medical education. Given this concern, I am conducting a pilot study on the extent to which medical/healthcare students and faculty understand the concepts of women's health. Specific aims are: 1) to discover if medical/healthcare students and faculty understand women's health beyond reproductive health, and if not, 2) to investigate if such an understanding of women's health is due to their medical/healthcare education; and 3) to examine potential gender biases in their medical/healthcare training. With information obtained from in-depth interviews with three medical students and one physician’s assistant student, I plan to design a quantitative survey for future research. Preliminary research findings from the interviews conducted so far suggest that, regardless of gender or medical training, female and male students understand the concept of women's health in terms of reproductive health only. With further research, I intend to explore how personal gender biases may prevent women's health from being understood comprehensively. I also plan to examine reasons why faculty may not incorporate more gender-specific themes or social factors into their instruction, even when their understanding of women's health issues may be quite comprehensive.