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About Maya Overby Koretzky and Caitlin Bowen

Maya Overby Koretzky is a fifth-year MD-PhD student at Johns Hopkins University. Her PhD research is in history of medicine, and focuses on the long history of social determinants of health and the politics of public hospital medicine in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American South. Her previous work has focused on this history of HIV/AIDS and the ethics of brain death and organ transplantation. Maya earned her BA in history from Cornell University in 2013 and worked as a fellow in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health prior to starting medical school.

Caitlin Bowen is a fifth-year MD-PhD student at Johns Hopkins University. Her PhD research is in human genetics and focuses on the use of genetic and environmental modifiers to understand the molecular mechanisms of rare cardiovascular diseases. Prior to medical school, Caitlin earned her BS in biological engineering from Cornell University and worked as a fellow in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Introduction

Many women and gender-minority students considering, admitted to, or matriculated in combined-degree programs have at one point or another expressed apprehension that their gender will negatively affect their training.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Gender disparity remains at all levels of physician-scientist training.

  • Many institutions are committed to increasing gender parity in the physician-scientist workforce.

  • Despite the national gender gap in physician-scientist training, many women and gender-minority students apply to and thrive in MD-PhD training programs and their physician-scientist careers.

  • There are few gender-specific considerations in dual-degree training. Aspects of the dual degree that have often been characterized as women’s issues, such as length of training, are considerations that affect people of all genders.

  • Dual-degree candidates may benefit from identifying and working with peer and faculty mentors who share their gender or other identities and should take advantage of the support available at each level of their training.

While it is true that a gender disparity remains for applications to and enrollment in MD-PhD training, despite near gender parity in MD and biomedical PhD programs, efforts are underway at many institutions to change this pattern by committing to train and support a gender-diverse field of scientists, physicians, and physician-scientists. Many women apply to, matriculate in, and complete combined-degree programs and go on to have fruitful research and clinical careers. As a growing number of individuals identify along the gender spectrum, it is likely that the number of gender-minority dual-degree candidates will also increase in future years. Program directors increasingly understand gender diversity more broadly, and issues that have been previously identified as women’s concerns in MD-PhD training, such as length of training and the desire to have a family, are recognized more often as important for people of all gender identities.

While modern physician-scientist training is more accessible ...

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