1st prize, Medicover Hospital (Poland), for its press conference on “Women in Surgery”
(from the right: Anna Nipanicz-Szałkowska – Medicover Hospital CEO, Joanna Bubak-Dawidziuk, DMSc – Gynaecologist-Obstetrician, an expert in the surgical treatment of endometriosis and a certified da Vinci operator and Artur Ostrowski – Synektik CEO)
What makes your project so special?
Our project addressed a very important issue that affects the healthcare system globally. It is about striving for gender balance in healthcare and supporting the professional development of women – specifically in surgery.
Despite a growing awareness of gender balance, surgery is still the domain of men. Among surgeons in Poland, female surgeons account for only 13 per cent, and there are only three female da Vinci robot operators in the country compared to 70 men. One of very few is Dr. Joanna Bubak-Dawidziuk from Medicover Hospital who became a mentor for the training co-organized by us, along with the Women in Surgery foundation and Synektik, distributor of the da Vinci robotic surgery system in Poland.
The training programme was dedicated to female doctors, included live observation of an operation performed with the use of da Vinci robotic surgery system, as well as practical exercises at the robotic console. Parallel to that, we held a press conference to showcase best practices in diversity & inclusion from Medicover Hospital, and to raise the issue of gender inequality among surgeons. Both events were excellent opportunities to generate broader public discussion on this important topic.
At Medicover Hospital we believe that our employer’s responsibility includes striving for gender balance and supporting the professional development regardless of sex. Enabling young doctors to develop and fulfil their professional ambitions should be on our common agenda. Dedicated workshops for women who want to become da Vinci operators were an important step towards equal opportunities in the profession and greater access to modern technology in medicine.
What does this award mean to you and your teams?
We see the award as the recognition of our work to be the place where we contribute to individual patients’ health improvement, but also, we can influence and shape the landscape of health sector professionals’ situation.
Such achievement is a great empowerment for our team and it encourages us and our doctors to further share their unique expert knowledge in the area of endometriosis diagnosis and treatment. Finally, we experience strengthening the bond with the partner organizations as our case proves that being open to new ideas helps to break the barriers on a wider scale.
We are proud to be among the EPHA finalists for the second time in a row. This is particularly important for us ahead of our 15th anniversary next year as the first private hospital in the country’s capital.
By offering the access to world-class treatment and specialist knowledge, we will continue our mission to further develop and raise the level of healthcare available to our patients
On 2 December, the “Women in Surgery” press conference was held at the Medicover Hospital.
The meeting offered an opportunity to discuss the role of the medical entity in supporting the professional growth of females, pursuing gender balance and eliminating barriers that continue to block women’s careers in surgery. Speakers included Anna Nipanicz-Szałkowska – Medicover Hospital CEO, Joanna Bubak-Dawidziuk, DMSc – a gynaecologist-obstetrician, an expert in the surgical treatment of endometriosis and a certified da Vinci operator, as well as representatives of Synektik (distributor of the da Vinci system in Poland) and of the Women in Surgery Foundation which researches, inter alia, the issue of gender balance in the world of surgery.
Presentation of the capabilities of the da Vinci robotic system assisting surgeons (including female ones) in their work, and showing the spectrum of operations that may be performed using this particular technique at the hospital was another of the meeting’s objectives. The conference was accompanied by a workshop for female gynaecology specialists. The workshop was organized on the initiative of the Women in Surgery Foundation and Synektik – the Polish authorised representative of the da Vinci robotic surgery system provider.
The event was of high importance for the facility, as the Medicover Hospital is a very inclusive organization striving to foster the development of female entrepreneurship. It is also one of the leaders in deploying the da Vinci robot. Doctor Bubak-Dawidziuk herself is one of three female operators of the system in Poland (with the number of males equaling 70) and the only one in Poland relying on the assistance of the robot in treating endometriosis. The event provided the Hospital’s experts and management with the opportunity to raise the level of awareness concerning this specific subject, as its importance continues to grow, and to change the status quo in the field of gender discrimination – a problem that is prevalent in many markets around the world.
The event, combining the press conference, the workshop for medical specialists and a hands-on experience with the da Vinci robot, offered a unique pretext for communicating and promoting such issues as gender balance in surgery, the need to educate medics, as well as exposure to and validity of relying on the latest technological advances. The change in the perspective of female workshop participants and the broadening of their qualifications provided an opportunity to promote, through the media, awareness-related issues among the general public.
Workshop with Joanna Bubak-Dawidziuk, DMSc – Gynaecologist-Obstetrician, an expert in the surgical treatment of endometriosis and a certified da Vinci operator
Female surgeons account for 13.4 per cent of all Polish surgeons only, and the country only has three female da Vinci robot operators. According to a survey conducted by the Women in Surgery Foundation, one in four female doctors is not satisfied with the professional development opportunities available, and one in three claims that they are not able to benefit from their medical specialisation programmes as efficiently as male doctors. Based on experience and data provided by the Women in Surgery Foundation, we may say that factors discouraging female doctors from pursuing careers of surgeons include the following:
- the fact that the profession of a surgeon is stereotypically considered to be a purely male job
- own experience of bullying or gender-based discrimination
- as well as failure to receive sufficient support in the course of professional training.
The demanding lifestyle challenges associated with the work of a surgeon and such issues as parental leave or childcare are not considered to be significant obstacles. According to the Medicover Hospital, the role of the medical entity, as a responsible employer, is to support the professional development of females and strive to achieve gender balance. At our hospital, 46 per cent of all doctors are female, with one in five surgeons being females as well (13 in total). Our focus on combating gender stereotypes is also manifested by the management structure. There are five females (including the hospital’s CEO) and one male on the Management Board. The share of females on the medical management staff is also higher than the national average – one in four Head Doctors is a woman.
The approach that the Medicover Hospital adopts ensures equal access to treatment for all patients, regardless of gender; 56 per cent of all hospitalisations are for female patients. Joanna Bubak-Dawidziuk, DMSc, one of three female surgeons in Poland operating using the da Vinci robot is also the only female surgeon treating endometriosis with the use of the da Vinci. Assisted by the da Vinci robot, she has performed dozens of operations of this life-threatening disease affecting approximately one million females of reproductive age in our country. Meanwhile, a total of 265 endometriosis surgeries (including laparoscopy with 3D imaging) were performed in our hospital in 2022. The Medicover Hospital is Poland’s leader in using the da Vinci robot. Additionally, it plays the role of a leading centre for diagnosing and treating endometriosis and offering comprehensive care to gynaecological patients in Poland.
By organising the event, the Medicover Hospital has laid a foundation stone for additional discussions concerning the role of women in surgery, as well as for discussing the role of medical entities in shaping gender balance policies and supporting female entrepreneurship.
The key topic of the meeting was a novelty for well-established journalists following the transformation of the health market in Poland. This conference was the first event of this type organised by Medicover after the pandemic, thus adding a sense of additional priority to the subject in question.
a) Impact on the public – using the media, we were able to promote the issue of modern technology used in treatment (including endometriosis, a disease characterized by a low level of public awareness).
b) Impact on the professional medical community – we draw the attention of the participants to the issue of gender balance and gender inequality in the profession of a surgeon. Boosting the knowledge of doctors was an additional benefit – a factor that is important in order to promote widespread access to treatment nationwide.
c)Impact on the hospital – the event allowed us to consolidate our image of an expert in using da Vinci systems, positioned us as playing the role of local medical experts, allowed us to establish valuable cooperation with NGO representatives, strengthened the business relations with our partner and established a bond with young healthcare professionals.
d) Impact on the partners – they benefited from cooperating with a recognisable platform (a high-profile, well-recognised medical facility), which, thanks to its authority and infrastructure, boosted credibility to the content delivered, enabled the partners to effectively present their technological achievements in real life situations, and allowed them to share best practices. The conference was widely reported in the media, and the level of interest in the leading theme continues to be high, with journalists regularly looking for opportunities to contact Medicover Hospital experts.