What are demographics like among different medical fields? I.e., are there certain specializations strongly associated with, say, a particularly conservative or liberal slant to their practicioners?
Hey there @108echoes . Thankee for the ask!
I’ll answer the “demographics” question first, mostly by gender. (Also, as a heads up, I’m going to talk about “male” and “female” as generalities; nonbinary and trans folk simply aren’t in medicine in enough numbers to start really counting. I know the trans community is under-counted, in medicine just like everywhere else, and I haven’t forgotten you guys, but this is based on the data I can find, which is strict M/F.)
Things differ specialty to specialty, but also job title to job title. For example, nursing is about 95% female (the 5% who are men are more likely to be supervisors and more likely to be paid better, because of course there’s sexism in “female” jobs too, why wouldn’t there be?), while surgery is overwhelmingly male. Physical therapy is mostly men, lab techs are a roughly even split, EMS is almost 50/50 (depending on the service), emergency medicine is fairly evenly split as well (maybe a touch more male than female). The “brainiac” specialties, like cardiology, neurology, etc. tend to be fairly evenly split, but perhaps more male-leaning, as I understand, but I could be wrong.
OB/GYN is overwhelmingly female, and male providers are actually looked at with suspicion. (Because all men want to violate women, right? Who said sexism can’t go both ways?) Family practice – the general “doctor’s office” we think of – is also skewed female.
Oh, by the way, regardless of rank or specialty, female providers tend to make less than their male coworkers. What, you thought medicine was equal?
Age, by the way, makes an enormous difference in demographics. More than 50% of doctors under 30 are female, while only 30% of doctors in the West are women. That means that the next 30 years are going to see some big gender divide shifts in healthcare, which I heartily welcome.
In terms of liberal vs conservative, I think it depends an awful lot on other factors, more so than what the person does for a living. That said, the overwhelming majority of OB/GYN docs that I’m aware of are in favor of abortion being legal and easily accessible. But that view isn’t born of a liberal mindset; it’s born of a strong understanding of the science. You can be a conservative OB/GYN and still agree that, while you may not want to perform abortion or even think it’s morally right, that it should still be safe and legal.
Where someone comes from (and where they’re practicing, and where they trained) weigh heavily on their political views. A doctor who’s practicing in Dallas, for example, who was born in Seattle and trained in Baltimore will likely be a liberal, whereas someone who was born in Dallas, trained in Georgia, and is practicing in Milwaukee is likely to be a conservative.
Similarly, the institution where one works can be conservative or liberal, depending on a few things. Privately owned institutions tend to be more conservative and tight-fisted; public institutions tend to be a little more liberal. Catholic institutions won’t terminate pregnancies even for the health of the mother in some cases. Research hospitals might be either more conservative (more $) or more liberal (more sciency).
Any discussion of “conservative” and “liberal” will also have to talk about the fucked-up relationship between science and religion these days. Generally, science is on the side of the liberals; “scientific truth” should be a value not associated with politics, but given the way things are now, it’s a liberal value.
It’s easier to categorize the specialties by “mindsets” or personality archetypes. Neurologists tend to use the organ they study as much as they practice on it, they tend to be very technical, intelligent, and thoughtful. Orthopedic docs and surgeons in general are often the jocks of medicine (surgery in general is very “jocky” and something of a boy’s club). Emergency medicine and trauma surgery are both specialties that require a love of high adrenaline, and don’t necessarily require the biggest brain on the block. Internal medicine and ICUs are pretty much split down the middle.
Medicine is also very tribal. The specialty you’re in is the best specialty, dammit, the only worthwhile specialty. Everyone believes this no matter what.
There’s also a saying:
The emerge knows nothing and does nothing.
Medicine knows everything and does nothing.
Surgery knows nothing and does everything.
And the ME knows everything and does everything, but is a bit too late to the party.
Again, these are archetypes and generalities.
I invite people from specialties outside of EMS to weigh in on this. Keep in mind that this whole response is based on quick Internet research and personal experiences.
Hope this helped!