How to Handle Gender Bias at Your Medical Practice


By Brooke Chaplan

Gender bias is not a simple topic. If you run a medical practice, you are probably already aware that cultural standards can have a negative impact on the way that your business is run. These strategies may help you create and maintain a more balanced workplace for your staff.

Implement Fair Hiring and Promotion Practices

The hiring process is the first and most obvious place where gender discrimination can occur. Although it is illegal to hire based on gender, unconscious bias can still influence employment decisions—especially if you run a large practice.

Take steps to hire based on accomplishments and qualifications first. Try reviewing resumes without the names attached so that you can objectively judge based on experience. During the actual interview process, bring in multiple members of the leadership team so that you can get a better understanding of how a candidate might fit in with your operation.

Create a Culture That Respects Degrees

Unconscious gender bias is an unfortunate reality in the medical industry. Although male and female doctors are equal in number, there is a tendency for parties of both genders to treat female physicians differently. They may be asked to do additional tasks for the practice, like planning meetings or after-work events, or they may simply be peppered with questions that interrupt their workday.

This problem is deeply rooted in culture and may not be easy to solve. In your individual practice, consider creating a standard of providing equal respect to people who have the same list of accomplishments. Physicians should not be in charge of cleaning up the office or hiring new staff members. Nurses have their own job duties and do not have time to fetch coffee or meeting notes. Delegate non-medical roles to members of your practice who have been hired to fill those positions.

Invest in Human Resources

As the leader of a medical practice, you can’t be expected to understand the full nuances of gender discrimination. Similarly, you can’t always watch for the ways that gender discrimination occurs both consciously and unconsciously.

A simple solution is to make sure that your human resources department is receiving an appropriate amount of funding. Whether you have an internal department or make use of an external company, take advantage of this valuable addition to your team.

Provide Legal Support

When gender discrimination does occur, you need to make sure that your practice is prepared to handle the situation. Look for a firm that provides gender discrimination law services and has experience working with the medical industry.

Although you may not need to keep your gender discrimination lawyer on retainer, it pays to have a good relationship with a firm that you know you can trust. Your lawyer may be able to answer specific questions and help you run your practice in a way that meets current legal recommendations.

Gender bias is slowly fading from society. As the owner or manager of a medical practice, you have a unique opportunity to create a positive and bias-free environment for the newest members of the field. Remain sensitive to gender issues, and remember that the effects of bias get in the way of the most important work: taking care of the patients.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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