Giving Voice: New dentist is making big difference at Oasis

When we temporarily closed the dental clinic in March, we understood the profound impact it would have on our patients’ oral health. Most of our patients have moderate to severe dental issues, requiring several visits to address the multiple issues that have impacted their ability to smile, eat, and sleep. Lack of fluoridated water, inability to pay for services, and years of deferred or delayed care are just some of the root causes for the dental issues our patients experience. Our patients rely on our free services to address dental issues and alleviate pain so that they can get back to their jobs and families.

We also knew that when it was safe to re-open the dental clinic, we might not have dentists who could volunteer with us, at least not immediately. Those in private practice are focused on keeping their businesses going, meaning they often work on Fridays – the day most volunteer at Oasis. Because many of our volunteer dentists are over 60 and in the high-risk category, we weren’t sure if they would return. As a result, and for the first time in our history, we hired a staff dentist for eight hours per week to provide care to our patients. This, it turns out, has been one of the best things to come out of the pandemic.

Dr. Flo Edwards started in early September and jumped quickly into action, providing almost $12,000 in free dental care during her first six weeks. She has delivered a wide array of dental services – comprehensive exams, extractions, and fillings – and our patients have been thrilled to have access to dental care again. My office is down the hall from the dental suites, and I have a front row seat to their smiles and calls of, “Thank you!” as they leave the clinic.

Being a dentist wasn’t necessarily the plan for Dr. Edwards. Growing up in Portland, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She headed to college in Illinois where she got a degree in biology and economics, minoring in classical studies. She had the prerequisites for medical or dental school and shadowed her parents’ dentist. But, teaching had appeal, and Dr. Edwards got her teaching certification from the University of New England. She taught at Bonny Eagle High School and worked at Spurwink for a while.

Dentistry, however, was still on her mind, and Dr. Edwards applied to dental school. Howard University’s College of Dentistry was at the top of her list. As a Black girl growing up in Maine, she had grown used to standing out and assimilating to those around her. The opportunity to attend a Historically Black University was a chance to be a part of and learn in a community with other Black students. As a daughter of a veteran, Dr. Edwards also decided to apply to the Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). As fate would have it, Dr. Edwards was accepted into both OCS and dental school. Through good advice and

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Women in medicine make about $116,000 less than men, and the pandemic could be making things worse



a person holding a baby: HRAUN/Getty Images


© HRAUN/Getty Images
HRAUN/Getty Images

  • Medical networking site Doximity released its fourth annual Physician Compensation Report on Thursday.
  • In addition to compensation differences across US cities, the report highlights that women make less than men in all medical specialties. 
  • According to the report, the wage gap is largest for otolaryngology — or the specialty related to ears, noses, and throats — where women make 77.9% of men or a gap of 22.1%.
  • Overall, the gender wage gap in 2020 for doctors is 28%, about three percentage points higher than last year’s report.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus recession has disproportionately hurt working women, and the pressures of balancing work with parenting and household responsibilities amid the pandemic have also affected female doctors.

Medical networking site Doximity just released its fourth annual Physician Compensation Report, and one of the main findings is that the gender wage gap for doctors has widened this year.

The report describes compensation for physicians in various US cities and in different medical specialties. The figures are based on self-reported compensation surveys from 2019 and 2020 that were completed by around 44,000 US physicians.

One notable finding is the various gender wage gaps among medical specialties. Last year’s report showed a declining gap in pay between male and female physicians. However, this year the overall wage gap was 28%, 2.8 percentage points higher than last year’s figure. Women in medicine made about $116,000 less than men, where women make an average salary of around $299,000 compared to the average salary among male doctors of about $415,000. 

“It’s likely that the widening gender pay gap represents another financial consequence of the pandemic. This is a troubling trend economists have previously reported on in other industry sectors,” the company wrote in the report. 

The latest report shows that the pandemic’s effects on working women extends to healthcare, even though the industry is considered essential during the pandemic.  

“What we are thinking is that women have more responsibilities at home and therefore have had to cut back on their hours,” Dr. Peter Alperin, vice president at Doximity, told Business Insider. He also said that overall there’s been a slowing of increases in compensation this year which has especially affected compensation for women in the medical field.

Overall 865,000 women left the workforce in September alone. That is about four times higher than the number of men who dropped out of the workforce that month. NPR reports that more demand within households may be contributing to this large decline of women in the workplace. 

The following chart highlights the medical specialties with the largest gender wage gaps, according to the Doximity report. Otolaryngology, or treating ear, nose, and throat issues, has the largest gap. Women make 77.9% of men’s average annual salaries or is a wage gap of 22.1%. Women in this medical specialty make around $109,000 less than men.  

The following chart highlights the medical specialties with the smallest wage gaps, based on the report.

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Pandemic may be making it harder for pregnant women who use opioids to get effective treatment

Opioid use in pregnancy has prompted new guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics aimed at improving care for women and for newborns affected by their mothers’ drug use.

The number of affected women and infants has increased in recent years but they often don’t get effective treatment, and the coronavirus pandemic may be worsening that problem, said Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author of the academy report released Monday.

“While we have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, pregnant women and their newborns seldom make it to the top of the heap. Infants are receiving variable care and not getting connected to services,” said Patrick, a Vanderbilt University pediatrician.

The academy’s report says pregnant women should have access to opioid medication to treat opioid misuse. Two opioids, buprenorphine and methadone, are effective treatments but pregnant women often face stigma in using them and doctors who prescribe them are scarce.

The academy says hospitals should have written protocols for assessing and treating opioid-affected newborns. Many don’t and practices vary widely.

Breastfeeding and other practices that promote bonding should be encouraged, and parent education and referral to services for affected newborns should be provided, the academy says. Its recommendations echo guidance from other medical groups and the U.S. government.

“This is a substantial public health problem that is still lacking solutions,” Patrick said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7% of U.S. women reported in 2019 that they had used prescription opioids during pregnancy. One-in-five of those women reported misusing the drugs while pregnant.

Some infants born to these women develop symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including tremors, fussiness and diarrhea.

By some U.S. estimates, nearly 80 affected infants are diagnosed every day and the numbers have tripled in recent years.

Patrick has done research suggesting that these infants may be at risk for developmental delays but says it’s possible those findings reflect use of alcohol or other drugs during pregnancy, poor prenatal care or stress.

“Getting into treatment may be getting even harder” because of the pandemic, he said. “There’s so much going on in the world that that issues involving opioid use are flying under the radar.”

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