Creating Flexible and Sustainable Work Models for Academic Obstetrician–Gynecologists Engaged in Global Health Work

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe various work models for obstetrics and gynecology global health faculty affiliated with academic medical centers and to identify barriers and opportunities for pursuing global health work.

METHODS:

A mixed-methods study was conducted in 2016 among obstetrics and gynecology faculty and leaders from seven academic medical institutions in Boston, Massachusetts. Global health faculty members were invited to complete an online survey about their work models and to participate in semistructured interviews about barriers and facilitators of these models. Department chairs and residency directors were asked to participate in interviews.

RESULTS:

The survey response rate among faculty was 65.6% (21/32), of which 76.2% (16/21) completed an interview. Five department leaders (45.5% [5/11]) participated in an interview. Faculty described a range of work models with varied time and compensation, but only one third reported contracted time for global health work. The most common barriers to global health work were financial constraints, time limitations, lack of mentorship, need for specialized training, and maintenance of clinical skills. Career satisfaction, creating value for the obstetrics and gynecology department, and work model flexibility were the most important facilitators of sustainable global health careers.

CONCLUSION:

The study identified challenges and opportunities to creating flexible and sustainable work models for academic obstetrics and gynecology clinicians engaged in global health work. Additional research and innovation are needed to identify work models that allow for sustainable careers in global women's health. There are opportunities to create professional standards and models for academic global health work in the obstetrics and gynecology specialty.

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