Faculty Articles

Gender Differences in Medical Students: A Mixed Method Examination into the Potential Driver of Referral Patterns

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The fiscal impact of the referral patterns of physicians known to increase the overall cost of medical care, however the complex relationship between these variables is less understood (Stratton, McLaughlin, Witte, Fosson, & Nora, 2005; Lau, Alpert, Huckfeldt, Hussey, Auerbach et al., 2014). More specifically, when procedures that can be completed by the primary care physician are referred out it increases the cost of medical care at both a micro and macro level. However, it is difficult to isolate the exact variables and context that would precisely predict this pattern. This examination is an attempt to piece together the preliminary factors that may be exhibited medical-school training that would help to explain the referral-pattern process. A sequential multi-phase mixed method approach was utilized including the first two quantitative strands and the follow-up qualitative component. The first phase included an evaluation of male-female teams and who took the lead on the medical procedure. Results indicated that males took the majority of the lead on these procedures (38 for males and 26 for females). The next phase included an assessment of self-efficacy which revealed that on average females reported lower levels of efficacy, which was further elaborated by the performance evaluation. The final qualitative phase asked to elaborate on their self-efficacy while doing the required procedures. Results revealed that those students who did not take the lead did not feel as competent as their peers to perform the procedures. The findings can shed light on the gender-shift phenomenon, which is important to the receivers and the providers of medical services and potentially on referral-pattern processes.



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