Study Explores Gender Disparities in Cardiac EP Training in the US and Canada

In pursuit of a career in clinical cardiac electrophysiology (EP), women are more likely to withdraw than their male colleagues due to radiation concerns, interest in another field, lack of female role models, a perceived "old boys' club" culture, and concerns about discrimination and harassment, according to results of an ACC survey published Aug. 23 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Adequately addressing these factors could help close the gender gap in the EP field.

Nashwa Abdulsalam, MBBCh, et al., developed and distributed an ACC online survey to 933 Fellows in Training (FITs) in the U.S. and Canada. The multiple-choice survey sought to identify the factors that persuade or dissuade FITs toward cardiovascular subspecialties, particularly EP, and assess how these factors differ by gender.

The results showed that out of the 933 FITs who participated in the survey, 129 wanted to specialize in EP, 259 wanted to specialize in interventional cardiology, and 545 were either undecided or sought a different field altogether. Gender played a significant role, with 84% of male FITs pursuing EP compared to only 16% of female FITs. Female FITs were most influenced by the presence of a female role model in the field vs. men.

"Women pursuing careers in cardiology continue to face many unique challenges including discrimination, limited number of strong mentors and female leaders, impediments to career advancement and work-life balance issues, which have not changed substantially over the last two decades," the authors conclude. "A greater commitment among leaders of internal medicine and cardiovascular training programs and professional organizations is necessary to improve gender diversity in the field of clinical cardiac electrophysiology."

In a related editorial comment, Erin D. Michos, MD, MHS, FACC, et al., add that "Representation really matters, and the current survey findings reaffirmed this importance. Mentorship and female role models were some of the most influential factors in choosing EP. Women EP cardiologists need to be visible to the pipeline, the early learners such as undergraduate students, medical students, and internal medicine residents."

Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Implantable Devices, SCD/Ventricular Arrhythmias, Atrial Fibrillation/Supraventricular Arrhythmias

Keywords: Students, Medical, Work-Life Balance, Sex Factors, Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac, Internal Medicine, Radiation, Arrhythmias, Cardiac

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