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Duke Research News

Women Cardiologists Do Different Work, Make Less Money than Men Despite efforts to in-

types of work performed and pay rates.

totals more than $1 million.

crease gender diversity in cardiology, major

The researchers found that:

differences

job

•W  omen constitute about 12 percent of

“This is the first study to show that although

and

cardiology ranks, which is dispropor-

men and women cardiologists share the

pay persist between

tionately low, given that half of medical

same specialty, they have markedly dif-

men and women who

school graduates are female.

ferent job descriptions,” Dr. Douglas said.

in

characteristics Pamela S. Douglas, M.D., M.A.C.C., F.A.S.E.

counterparts. Over a lifetime of work this

patients,

•W  omen are more likely to specialize in

“Thirty-nine percent of men are interven-

according to a Duke Medicine-led study

general/noninvasive cardiology, with 53

tionalists vs. 11 percent of women, and this

presented at the annual American Heart

percent pursuing this subspecialty com-

sets the stage for higher compensation.”

treat

heart

Association meeting.

pared to 28 percent of men. •A  lmost 91 percent of male cardiologists

The researchers found that the ranks of

stated they work full time, while about

women cardiologists remain disproportion-

80 percent of women said they work full

ally small compared to those in medicine

time.

overall; women who choose the field are

•M  en dominate in interventional sub-

much less likely to specialize in higher-pay-

specialties that perform higher-paying

ing interventional procedures; and women

catheter-based procedures. More than 39

earn less, even when adjusting for the dif-

percent of male cardiologists reported an

ferent types of work they do.

interventional subspecialty, compared to 11 percent of women.

“These results recapitulate the salary differ-

•M  en earn more money, even after ac-

ences that have been found among male

counting for all measured differences

and female physicians, lawyers, business

in job description, practice setting and

executives and others,” said cardiologist

productivity. Inherent in the measure of

Pamela S. Douglas, M.D., M.A.C.C., F.A.S.E.,

productivity are the known biases in the

Geller professor of research in cardiovascu-

billing system referred to as the relative

lar diseases at the Duke Clinical Research

value unit (RVU), in which procedures

Institute. Dr. Douglas is senior author of the

are reimbursed by the federal Centers for

research, which is also being published in

Medicare & Medicaid Services based on

the Journal of the American College of Car-

a score that accounts for the complexity,

diology.

time and value of a service. Interven-

Credit Mark Dubowski for Duke Medicine.

tional procedures generally have higher

“The differences in subspecialization and

“Cardiology needs to be welcoming to

RVU scores than cognitive services. As

practice were striking and merit note,” said

women,” Dr. Douglas said. ”One way to do

a result, male cardiologists generated a

radiation oncologists Reshma Jagsi, M.D.,

this is to acknowledge these differences

median 9,301 RVUs, while women gener-

associate professor at the University of

and work toward correcting them.”

ated 7,430.

Michigan and the study’s first author. “But

•T  he different procedures, working hours

it’s also important to note that the differ-

Dr. Douglas and colleagues analyzed data

and billing rates translate into higher

ence in compensation between men and

from 161 cardiology practices in United

earnings for men – a median of about

women couldn’t fully be explained by dif-

States communities surveyed in a 2013 re-

$100,000 a year more for men than for

ferences in subspecialty, procedures or the

women.

many other personal, job and practice char-

port from MedAxiom, a firm that gathers

acteristics that we evaluated.”

and distributes data and business informa-

•E  ven adjusting for differences in the

tion specifically for cardiologists. The sur-

amount and type of work performed,

vey is considered a non-biased look at busi-

women in cardiology make about

Dr. Douglas said the study did not address

ness practices, including hours worked,

$32,000 less per year than their male

the reasons why women steered to gen-

16

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