Female Doctors Call For Their Own #MeToo Movement

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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As the #MeToo movement shines a light on harassment in media and politics, women in medicine are hoping to come forward with their own stories of workplace harassment.

A months-long NBC News investigation revealed that women working in the healthcare field reported facing sexual harassment from male doctors or being on the receiving end of sexually suggestive commentary.

“Part of it has to do with the culture of hospitals and the whole culture of health care in general, which is very hierarchical,” said Teresa Goodell, a 58-year-old trauma clinical nurse specialist from the Portland, Ore., area.

Dr. Christina Jenkins alleged a chief resident told her that her life would be easier if she slept with him as she was doing her residency in New York. She also alleged that an attending physician told her she “knew how to spread good” as she was removing a skin graft on a patient.

The hospital where Jenkins worked noted it has a strict policy against sexual harassment, that the doctor in question had not worked there in years and there was no official report about the alleged situation.

The #MeToo movement, started by a black woman years ago, came back to the public’s eye after numerous women accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of rampant sexual assault and harassment. Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Other men in media, like former NBC host Matt Lauer, have also fallen after women accused them of sexual harassment.

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Some experts believe that sexual harassment is a problem in medicine due to certain factors like long work hours and easy access to on-call rooms.

“I think that things can get pretty bad pretty quickly in medicine in a way that might not happen in other workplace environments as readily, because of seclusion and access to on-call rooms and the strong hierarchies and power differentials that are at play,” said Dr. Reshma Jagsi, a professor at the University of Michigan.

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