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Defining, navigating, and negotiating success: the experiences of mid-career Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar women. J Gen Intern Med 2006 Sep;21(9):920-5 PMID: 16918735 PMCID: PMC1831601

Pubmed ID



BACKGROUND: We studied female graduates of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (CSP, Class of 1984 to 1989) to explore and describe the complexity of creating balance in the life of mid-career academic woman physicians.

METHODS: We conducted and qualitatively analyzed (kappa 0.35 to 1.0 for theme identification among rater pairs) data from a semi-structured survey of 21 women and obtained their curricula vitae to quantify publications and grant support, measures of academic productivity.

RESULTS: Sixteen of 21 (76%) women completed the survey. Mean age was 48 (range: 45 to 56). Three were full professors, 10 were associate professors, and 3 had left academic medicine. Eleven women had had children (mean 2.4; range: 1 to 3) and 3 worked part-time. From these data, the conceptual model expands on 3 key themes: (1) defining, navigating, and negotiating success, (2) making life work, and (3) making work work. The women who described themselves as satisfied with their careers (10/16) had clarity of values and goals and a sense of control over their time. Those less satisfied with their careers (6/16) emphasized the personal and professional costs of the struggle to balance their lives and described explicit institutional barriers to fulfillment of their potential.

CONCLUSION: For this group of fellowship-prepared academic women physicians satisfaction is achieving professional and personal balance.

Author List

Kalet AL, Fletcher KE, Ferdman DJ, Bickell NA


Kathlyn E. Fletcher MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin


2-s2.0-33746519077   27 Citations

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Career Mobility
Education, Medical
Faculty, Medical
Follow-Up Studies
Job Satisfaction
Middle Aged
Personal Satisfaction
Physicians, Women
Qualitative Research
Research Design
Surveys and Questionnaires
Women, Working
jenkins-FCD Prod-353 9ccd8489072cb19f5b9f808bb23ed672c582f41e