Many urology practices are actively recruiting women urologists, but the problem is there is so much competition that a urology practice will need to do more than post a job listing. During a panel session titled LUGPA Forward Session – Strategies to Recruit and Retain Female Urologists in Your Practice at the LUGPA 2021 annual meeting, urologists were told a great compensation package is mandatory, and due to higher amounts of educational debt for women, offering debt forgiveness as part of the package may be helpful. Further, all urology practices must to have a maternity/paternity leave policy.
Data presented from the 2019 Resident & Fellow Census showed female residents took 6.4 weeks maternity leave on average compared to 1.6 weeks paternity leave among male residents (https://www.auanet.org/research/research-resources/aua-census/census-results). The data showed that 85% of residents and 72% of fellows reported paid maternity/paternity leave. Approximately, 10.3% of practicing urologists are women and 30% of urology residents are women. The census showed that roughly 23% of female urology residents planned on entering private practice compared with 39% of male residents.
Panel moderator Tim Richardson, MD, chair of LUGPA Forward, said there is high demand and a shortage of new urologists wanting to enter independent practice. “A growing proportion of urologists in training are women. However, very few of them decide to enter into independent practice. We in independent urology need to adapt and conform to be a more attractive option for women coming out of training,” Dr Richardson said.
Having a maternity leave policy is extremely important, and often a paid maternity leave policy is required to entice a woman urologist to join a group. “Be open-minded and if possible, reach out to women urologists in training and find out what is important to them and what is needed to be an attractive option for them entering a practice,” Dr Richardson said.
Panelist Jennifer Miles-Thomas, MD, president of Urology of Virginia, agrees, noting that maternity leave is a much bigger factor today than it was 10 years ago. “Maternity leave is important,” Dr Miles-Thomas said. “We should not require one gender to be penalized professionally or economically for biological differences. Policies matter. Maternity leave is not a vacation. The world is constantly changing and urology will need to adapt.”
Not surprising, most women residents are not interested in becoming the first woman to join a medical practice. So panelists said it may be easier to recruit and retain women if the group already has women urologists. Surveys suggest that the culture of a medical practice is paramount women candidates. It was noted that the “frat boy culture” is a turn off.
Recruitment of women urologists should begin with practices’ websites, panelists said. This is where women candidates will usually start when sizing up a practice. Urology practice websites that show no signs of diversity among physicians could be a turnoff. The panelists recommend having an “about our providers” section on the website to highlight the culture and diversity of an organization.