WOMEN’S HEALTH: OB/GYN Professors Urge Education Change
Medical science has "overlooked" women for years by treating them with medical knowledge based solely upon the study of men, according to the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the "Washington-based group representing 1,500 medical school professors" is releasing a report today "recommending that medical schools begin teaching future physicians how to treat women differently in dozens of areas, not only their reproductive organs." Association member Dr. Kathleen McIntyre-Seltman said, "All the physiology, all the pharmacology, how drugs work, how different diseases present and how they're treated have all been based on a model of man. No one knows whether that results in mistreatment. Medical science doesn't know that answer, because that work hasn't been done."
According to Stanford University School of Medicine Dean Dr. Elliott Wolfe, "Today's recommendation is part of a trend in medicine of focusing on women's health." The Sentinel notes that Congress required medical schools to incorporate women's health issues into their classes in 1992. The report being released today is "designed to help medical schools figure out how to do that," according to association spokesperson Roberta Bartlett.
According to the association's report, all medical students -- not just OB/GYN specialists -- "should be familiar with Pap smears, symptoms of rape and sexually transmitted diseases." In addition, doctors should: better understand common female maladies such as "lupus and rheumatoid arthritis," should learn how heart attacks and strokes manifest themselves differently in females and should learn about risks to pregnancy not traditionally studied, "such as exposure to the environmental toxins lead, dioxin and solvents." It has been about three decades "since the medical profession began to recognize that women and men respond differently and show different symptoms to various diseases," said University of Florida College of Medicine professor Dr. Leilani Doty. The increased awareness of women's health could be due, in part, to the "soaring number of women studying medicine," the Sentinel reports (Bouma, 3/4).