I just quit my job.  I quit because I had no choice. And now I might have to sue.  How could an emergency medicine residency graduate, board certified physician for more than 10 years end up in this position?

I survived a grueling but fantastic EM residency. For the  9 years after residency I worked for true democratic group that was unfortunately an hour from my house.  After years of the commute I made the difficult decision to look for a job closer to my house.  I started my new job with the same energy and excitement I had before. I worked at my new job for 3 years before I realized I might be on the wrong end of workplace gender discrimination.

It all started when I realized I was being under-scheduled for critical care shifts. This realization came after not being in critical care two years! No shifts meant no resuscitations, chest tubes, intubations, central lines, traumas etc. I literally felt myself loosing procedural skills as an EM physician. Oh and I was being over-scheduled for pediatric shifts.  Just for clarification, I am not specially trained in PEM.

My first instinct was that I must have made “someone really upset” but for the life of me, I could not figure out what I did or how to change it. And, no one had said anything to me.

Around this time a new female doc in my group asked me, “When do I get to work in the critical care area?” She was a board certified EM doctor who had started at the same time as several men. Those men had been scheduled more than once in critical care. But she had not. Was this happening to all the women in my group?

Lightening struck for me.  For so many years, I had thought how lucky women in EM were, that our workplace was at the forefront of gender equity in medicine. I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me.

After hours of pouring through months of schedules I discovered that female doctors were being sidelined from the most critical patients for at least 2 years. The percentages were shocking…less than 5% of the critical care shifts were going to women.  Our group was 40% female doctors. I started asking questions and was told that “the board decides who is qualified to be scheduled in critical care.” Last time I checked being female did not disqualify a physician from working in critical care.

Which brings me to FemInEM.  Once I realized this was happening, I didn’t know what to do. So I emailed the [email protected] and asked what to do.  That email that was the first time I felt the strength to fight against the discrimination I had uncovered.  Subsequent emails, phone calls and professional referrals made me feel supported, encouraged and empowered.

I have filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and am pursuing all appropriate legal avenues.  And I quit my job.  But I will not quit this fight.  I will uncover what may have been going on behind closed doors for so long.  No matter the outcome I am stronger for this journey.  FemInEM, and by extension all of you, helped give me that strength.  Thank you.