Do women's health internal medicine residency tracks make a difference?

Abby L. Spencer, James E. Bost, Melissa McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Women's health tracks (WHTs) were developed to overcome identified deficiencies in residency training. Their effectiveness in preparing residents to manage both gender-neutral and gender-specific medical conditions is unknown. Methods: Using current guidelines for internal medicine training, we designed a 65-item survey to measure residents' knowledge, comfort levels, and referral patterns concerning two gender-neutral topics (diabetes and thyroid disease) and two gender-specific topics (polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS] and menopause). We administered it to postgraduate year 2 (PGY2) and PGY3 internal medicine residents at a large academic medical center and compared the results of WHT and non-WHT residents using chi-square and t tests. Results: Of 61 residents, 50 (82%) responded. Fifty percent of respondents were female, 62% were PGY3, and 36% were WHT. WHT residents had higher mean knowledge scores than non-WHT residents concerning PCOS (60% vs. 45%, p < 0.05) and menopause (73% vs. 60 %, p < 0.01), and they were more likely to report feeling "very comfortable" handling PCOS and menopause issues (43% vs. 18%, p < 0.02), including diagnosing PCOS, managing hot flashes, and managing vaginal atrophy. WHT residents were less likely than non-WHT to immediately recommend referrals if patients had suspected PCOS (0% vs. 19%, p < 0.03) or confirmed PCOS (0% vs. 32%, p < 0.02), and they were more likely to report feeling adequately trained to provide comprehensive ambulatory women's healthcare (73% vs. 7%, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between WHT and non-WHT residents on gender-neutral topics. Conclusions: A WHT can help improve competencies in selected areas of women's health without compromising residents' knowledge or comfort concerning two core gender-neutral topics in ambulatory medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1223
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


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