Original Research Article| Volume 222, ISSUE 4, P746-750, October 2021

Contribution of unequal new patient referrals to female surgeon under-employment


      • Female surgeons received fewer new patient referrals than their male peers.
      • Fewer new patient referrals may contribute to female surgeon under-employment.
      • Surgeon gender may be one of the factors contributing to this differential referral pattern.



      The literature shows that female surgeons have lower operative volumes than male surgeons. Since volume is dependent on new patient referrals for most surgeons, inequities in referrals may contribute to this employment disparity.


      Using 1997–2018 data from a large medical center, we examined the number of new patient referrals for surgeons. Multivariate linear analysis was performed, adjusting for surgeon race, calendar year, seniority, and clinical subspecialty.


      A total of 121 surgeons across 12,410 surgeon-months were included. Overall, surgeons had a median of 14 new patient referrals per month (interquartile range (IQR) = 7, 27). On adjusted analysis, female surgeons saw 5.4 fewer new patient referrals per month (95% CI -6.4 to −4.5).


      Female surgeons, with equal training and seniority, received fewer new patient referrals than their male peers, and this may contribute to female surgeon under-employment. Surgeon gender may be one of the factors contributing to this differential referral pattern.


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