Specific Objectives

Because women's health is such a large, and not yet completely defined field of study, it would be impossible for any individual to become an "expert" in one year. It is expected that the following objectives would be touched on during teaching rounds, clinical interactions, and informal discussions. It is also anticipated that residents will pursue particular interests during electives, in their reading, and in their later careers.

Reproductive Health

  • To increase the resident's knowledge base and improve clinical skills with respect to normal processes in the women's reproductive life (i.e. puberty, menstruation, contraception, sexuality, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and aging) in addition to detecting and treating common problems (e.g. sexually transmitted diseases, infertility, gynecological cancers, sexual dysfunction, and incontinence).
  • To encourage the resident to consider how these normal processes and problems differently affect immigrant, lesbian, poor, disabled, older, and adolescent women.
  • To assist the resident in understanding the historical development of the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology, and the alternative (including feminist) critique of particular services offered to women by this profession (e.g. gynecological surgeries and new reproductive technologies).

Mental Health

  • To provide the resident with an understanding of the factors that can contribute to "mental illness" in women (e.g. society's/family's expectations, childhood sexual abuse, other forms of violence against women, role overload and/ or conflict, financial difficulties, etc.).
  • To encourage the development of skills in recognizing presentation of these problems (e.g. unexplained physical complaints, eating disorders, substance abuse, other addictive behaviours).
  • To develop skills in counselling around such issues, and to become aware of community resources for referral and support.

Violence against Women

  • To understand the prevalence and spectrum of violence against women and its impact on women's health (e.g. from sexual harassment and the fear of violence, to repeated sexual assault and murder).
  • To become aware of the reasons for this endemic violence, and how it is perpetuated.
  • To be able to recognize how women who have experienced violence present to their physician, providing early diagnosis.
  • To become familiar with skills required in dealing with women in both crisis and non-crisis situations (including the sexual assault examination), and to know how to take steps to protect women (and children) from further violence.
  • To educate the residents about community resources and how to access them.

Health Promotion

  • To have a good understanding of what healthy behaviours are and be able to counsel women from a variety of backgrounds about these (e.g. exercise, nutrition, safe sex, how to live with stress).
  • To actively incorporate appropriate screening procedures into general practice routines (e.g. osteoporosis, breast cancer, gynecological cancers, family violence).
  • To foster a practice of medicine where women (as well as others) are considered responsible for their own health and are provided with the information they need to make appropriate choices about their lifestyles.

Research

  • To provide the residents with the skills to critically appraise existing research that is applied to women (e.g. drug trials and studies of particular surgeries that base their data collection on male patient populations, but include women in their treatment).
  • To understand the principles of feminist research (e.g. hearing and valuing women's voices, empowering women) and consider how they could be applied to medical research.
  • To provide opportunities for interested residents to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in preparing and implementing a research project.

Physician Role

  • To develop an understanding of the relative position of power the physician is in with respect to the patient and other health care workers, and the impact this can have on the physician-patient relationship and on good health care provision.
  • To participate in multidisciplinary learning (i.e. teaching and supervision done by other health care personnel and community workers) in order to develop knowledge and skills that are not provided in traditional medical education, in addition to building greater respect and understanding for the expertise of individuals meeting women's needs outside the medical profession.

Physician Stress

  • To provide the residents with the ability to recognize stressors in their lives, including the personal impact of understanding women's position in society.
  • To assist in the development of strategies for taking care of themselves and each other (e.g. support groups). Medical Education
  • To provide the opportunity for residents to participate in educating others in medicine about women's health through assisting in organizing rounds and conferences.