By Alex Olgin
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Among practicing OB-GYNs in the U.S., a little fewer than half are men, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
As she left a 12-hour day on the labor and delivery shift, Dr. Katie Merriam turned off her pager.
“I don’t know what I’d do without it, you know? It’s another limb. I always know where it is,” she said, laughing.
The third-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology at the Carolinas Medical Center hospital in Charlotte works in a medical specialty dominated by women, treating women. She feels a special connection to her patients, Merriam said.
“You just, you can feel what they feel and understand why they feel certain ways. I do feel a special bond,” she said.
Nationally, 82 percent of doctors matching into OB-GYN residency programs are women. Many OB-GYN patients say they prefer female doctors. Merriam’s residency class is a bit of an anomaly, half of its members are men.
Though it’s nice to work with so many women, Merriam said, she and some of her female colleagues also like the perspective that men bring to the work environment.
“No one could really pinpoint about what balance they bring, but there’s something nice about having them,” she said.
It’s important to have men in the field, she said, if only to continue to give patients options in their choice of providers. But most of her friends and other women she talks to, she said, want female doctors.
Blake Butterworth, a fourth-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said he doesn’t take it personally when he hears that sort of thing from a patient.
“I don’t get discouraged; I don’t get offended,” Butterworth said. “I gladly hand that patient off.”