The Curbsiders podcast

#303 Wellness & Workarounds: Women in Medicine

November 1, 2021 | By

Burnout, Equity, and Leading our way to wellness!

Explore burnout and gender-based differences in well-being with our esteemed guests Drs. Clif Knight, Tammy Lin, and Kim Templeton. We discuss workarounds for leading our way to wellness. 

Dr. Clif Knight is a family physician and Senior Vice President for Education at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) with extensive leadership and expertise in well-being. 

Dr. Tammy Lin is an internal medicine specialist and a Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. We originally met her as a member of the Wellness through Equity and Leadership (WEL) Program and she started a podcast called “The DEI Shift” (pronounced The “Day” Shift), which focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the medical field. Dr. Knight and Dr. Lin participated in the 2019-2020 WEL program– six different specialty organizations came together to think about the core tenets of equity, well-being and leadership and how you really can’t have one without the other. 

Dr. Kim Templeton is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.  Her research focuses on women physicians and the inclusion of sex and gender medicine in medical education.

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  • Written and Produced by: Leah Witt, MD and Shreya Trivedi, MD
  • Infographic: Leah Witt, MD
  • Cover Art: Kate Grant MBChB MRCGP DipGUMed
  • Hosts: Matthew Watto MD, FACP; Leah Witt, MD, Shreya Trivedi, MD
  • Editor: Matthew Watto MD (written materials); Clair Morgan of
  • Guest: Clif Knight, MD, Tammy Lin, MD, Kim Templeton, MD

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Sponsor: The American College of Physicians

Join the American College of Physicians today! U.S. based post-training physicians can take advantage of a limited-time 20% membership discount. Visit and use the code ACP20. Membership discount is available only through December 31, 2021. 

Sponsor: Panacea Financial

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CME Partner: VCU Health CE

The Curbsiders are partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer FREE continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Visit and search for this episode to claim credit. See info sheet for further directions. Note: A free VCU Health CloudCME account is required in order to seek credit.

Show Segments

  • Intro, disclaimer, guest bios
  • Burnout & Wellness
  • The Case: Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell & her friend in primary care
  • The Part-Time Discussion
  • Outro

Wellness & Workarounds Pearls

  1. Non-burnout is not the goal. The goal is a deep sense of satisfaction and connection with your purpose.
  2. 40% of women go part-time (or leave medicine) within 6 years of training→ RED ALERT! This is an emergency for the profession!
  3. Women are coming up with workarounds to make work and life fit. Time to codify them.

Wellness, Leadership, and an Equitable Workplace

Health systems value the “insecure overachiever.” As long as there are insecure overachievers around, then the ones who don’t have bandwidth to overachieve will get weeded out and the status quo will persist. 

Burnout & Wellness

  • People are burned out from hearing the word burnout– the term doesn’t adequately reflect the systemic causes and multifaceted individual impacts.
  • As long as people think burnout is a personal failing, the more they will put blame on the individual not the system (Templeton, NAM 2019)
  • Burnout interventions can be problematic when they are top-down…”we know what’s good for you” (think: wellness modules and exercises! –see Dr. Glaucomflecken below)
  • We need to turn our attention to fostering wellness → wellness is being fulfilled, joyful, productive, with high-functioning relationships, and healthy coping mechanisms. 
The REAL goal: deep sense of satisfaction and connection with purpose (the goal is greater than just not burned out)

The Part-Time Conversation…

  • 40% of women leave or go part time from medicine within 6 years of completing residency training (a 4 alarm fire when >50% med school graduates are women, and the profession is slow to change to accommodate their needs)
  • We are seeing more gender disparities with “The Great Resignation,” a pandemic phenomena where employees are reconsidering their jobs/careers/professions. 
  • Women are more likely to consider leaving the workforce or downshifting often due to disproportionate caregiving and household demands, with even worse demands on women of color.

Women Frequently Feel No Matter Where They Are, They’re In The Wrong Place

  • Dr. Templeton shared that one woman physician said that “when she is at work, she thought she should be home. And, when she was at home, she thought she should be at work.”
  • It is a lifelong battle of disproportionate caregiver responsibilities. In a survey of women physicians over the age of 60, 20% of them are still the primary caretaker of somebody (Templeton et al 2020).
  • Women physicians are coming up with many workarounds to make work and life integrate– makes sense because as Shreya puts it…
“So much of medicine is just a bunch of workarounds glued together” 


  1. More about the WEL program 
  2. How Medicine Became the Stealth Family-Friendly Profession: read the controversial NYT article about part-time in medicine
  3. Gender-Based Differences in Burnout: Issues Faced by Women Physicians: National Academy of Medicine discussion paper by Dr. Templeton

Program on the Curbsiders WIM honor role: Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards


Listeners will reflect on gender-based differences in burnout and potential solutions to promote equity in the workplace.

Learning objectives

After listening to this episode listeners will…  

  1. Be aware of gender-based differences in burnout and wellness
  2. Explore why many women physicians leave medicine or go part time shortly after training
  3. Discuss systemic and institutional programs/restructuring that would promote career and work-life balance success for women in medicine


Dr. Templeton, Dr. Lin, and Dr. Knight report no relevant financial disclosures. The Curbsiders report no relevant financial disclosures. 


Witt LJ, Trivedi S, Templeton K, Lin T, Knight C, Watto MF. “#303 Wellness & Workarounds: Women in Medicine”. The Curbsiders Internal Medicine Podcast. November 1,  2021.

CME Partner


The Curbsiders are partnering with VCU Health Continuing Education to offer FREE continuing education credits for physicians and other healthcare professionals. Visit and search for this episode to claim credit.

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