Why Women’s Healthcare Matters for Hospital Administrators
As a healthcare administrator or public health professional, your work will likely involve considerations of gender in healthcare. It goes without saying that some aspects of providing healthcare are different between women and men. Truly understanding these differences and how they matter in the institutions you work for is critical to your ability to support patients.
Women need reproductive healthcare
First, let’s take a look at the first topic that probably comes to mind in considering women’s health—reproductive health.
Many women will consult with their healthcare provider on options for contraception and family planning at various points in their lives. Other reproductive health events that women seek healthcare for include pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. At each stage in life, there are particular biological experiences that are unique to women, so women will need viable options for managing reproductive health.
Preventative screenings are another important piece of reproductive health. Routine checks for HPV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as for certain cancers, are important for longevity and wellbeing.
Non-reproductive issues matter too
While reproductive health itself is important, it’s not the only aspect of healthcare that can be different between women and men. Some health issues, for instance, are related to reproductive health, but not necessarily included under its definition. For instance, many women struggle with postpartum depression after having a child, and as such it is a medical concern that needs to be taken seriously.
There are also several health concerns not directly related to reproductive health that impact women disproportionately. Returning to the topic of mental health, a study showed that 1 in 10 women between the ages of 18-44 reported symptoms of major depression in the past year. Anxiety has also been known to afflict women more frequently than men. Additionally, there is some evidence that mental illness manifests differently between women and men, underscoring a need for gender-sensitive psychological and psychiatric care.
Another health concern that women face is bone density loss. Women encounter health consequences related to bone density loss at much higher numbers than men, experiencing bone fractures and osteoporosis as they age.
Gender inequality as a health concern
Some of the challenges that women face might not have traditionally been viewed as a “health” concern in the past. However, more and more organizations are advocating that social issues need to be included when it comes to improving women’s health both in the U.S. and across the globe.
Research shows that unfortunately almost one in three women will experience intimate partner violence within their lifetimes. And while the origin of abuse may be social in nature, it can have very real, health effects. Those effects can include physical injury or death, depression, alcohol abuse, and sexually transmitted infections, among other concerns.
Similarly, poverty is a social issue that impacts women disproportionately and can have physical effects. Women are much more likely than men to be making only minimum wage. People in lower socioeconomic classes die at higher rates than others and suffer from health issues that more well-off individuals don’t experience as often.
Women matter in healthcare administration
As you’ve seen, treating women’s health as a serious concern within your healthcare institution is important. It is also important the women go into the professions of healthcare administration and public health, so that they can bring an awareness of women’s health concerns.
All healthcare professionals, female or otherwise, should take the time to educate themselves on women’s healthcare in order to be successful and compassionate in their careers.