Physicians Face Discrimination At Work

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A recent Sermo Says poll shows that up to two-thirds of physicians have faced discrimination in their careers.

While 33 percent of doctors said they didn’t experience discrimination, other doctors say they’ve endured it due to ethnicity, gender, age and even because of their specialty.


A hematologist with 40 years experience wrote, “Discrimination is not absent but is considerably less.  Age discrimination used to be “no problem” because the law allowed dismissal at 65. Once this law ended, tenure allowed faculty to continue indefinitely. This gummed up the works, keeping new faculty from having opportunity, and limiting the chair’s ability to terminate faculty… Ageism is probably the most active discriminatory practice now seen.”


Several physicians noted that specialties receive different treatment.  People mentioned pathologists, psychiatrists and osteopaths.  One physiatrist noted, “Almost every Physiatrist in America meets with discrimination on a weekly, if not daily basis. I guarantee there is no specialty that deals with more harassment, insults and general discrimination.”


Pay discrepancies still persist in medicine.  Men, on average, make 10.5% more than women for the same specialties according to the British Medical Journal.  Several women physicians in Sermo stated that gender discrimination is subtle but still exists.  One psychiatrist mentioned a boss who wouldn’t let her see male patients when it required partial disrobement.


Several physicians talked about being discriminated against because of the color of their skin and others talked about standing up for physicians with an ethnic background.  One obstetrician involved in a lawsuit wrote, “I naively held the notion that I would be judged by my merits not the color of my skin.”

Other Forms of Discrimination

Physicians mentioned other forms of discrimination including sexual orientation, religion, and physical disabilities.  One doctor told a story about a colleague, “I saw someone with very mild CP, fully ambulatory, discriminated against or at least not thought of as highly as a potential hire after residency which was infuriating at the time because we desperately needed the manpower.”

What do you think about discrimination in medicine?  As a physician have you experienced it during your career?  What about other health care practitioners?  We’ll be discussing this and more inside Sermo.  If you’re an M.D. or D.O., please join the conversation.






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