Supporting Women in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (WRAPM): Why You Should Join the Newest ASRA Special Interest Group

By Tina Doshi, MD    Nov 28, 2017

We in medicine are particularly data-driven creatures and are trained to find patterns among aberrant values.  We collate numerous observations and test results to develop a preliminary assessment.  We demand rigorous evidence and extensive experience to diagnose and treat challenging, complex problems.

That said, I’m going to present some data, Harper’s Index-style:

  • Percentage of women enrolled in U.S. medical schools, 1965[1]: 8
  • Percentage of women enrolled in U.S. medical schools, 50 years later[1]: 47
  • Ratio of male to female anesthesiology residents in the U.S.[2]: 2 to 1
  • Ratio of male to female pain medicine fellows in the U.S.[2]: 4 to 1
  • Number of American adults reporting pain in the previous 3 months[3]: 126 million
  • Proportion of women among them[3]: 5 out of 9
  • Difference in average Medicare payments to female pain physicians compared to their male colleagues[4]: -43.5%
  • U.S. anesthesiology department chairs named “Michael” or “Robert”[5]: 15+
  • U.S. anesthesiology department chairs who are women[1]: 11
  • Age of ASRA, in years[6]: 42
  • Number of Gaston Labat Award recipients[6]: 43
  • Number of female recipients[6]: 2
  • Most recent year in which a woman received the John J. Bonica Award[6]: 2002
  • Years since then that women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine[7]: 2004, 2008, 2009, 2009, 2014, 2015
  • Number of women who have ever served on the ASRA Board of Directors[8]: 6
  • Number of female physicians currently serving on the ASRA Board[6[: 1

 Based on these data, the assessment is clear:  women are underrepresented within regional anesthesiology and pain medicine, particularly in academic careers and leadership positions

With the creation of the newest ASRA Special Interest Group (SIG), we intend to address this problem—together.  Women in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (WRAPM) is a free SIG open to all ASRA members, men and women, interested in supporting and advancing the role of women in our subspecialties and medicine in general.

WRAPM SIG’s Mission

  • To encourage recruitment and promote the contributions of women in regional anesthesiology and pain medicine.
  • To provide networking opportunities and professional development support for women in pursuit of ASRA’s mission.
  • To recognize the achievements of women to the field and understand the unique challenges that face women in the profession

As one of the foremost professional societies in our specialty, ASRA is in a powerful position to effect positive change in the science and practice of regional anesthesia and pain medicine.  Improving gender diversity will drive more innovative research, more comprehensive education, and more personalized patient care.   When we encourage and promote the participation of women in our profession, we are helping ASRA to “accomplish our mission and vision by addressing the clinical and professional educational needs of physicians and scientists, ensuring excellence in patient care utilizing regional anesthesia and pain medicine, and investigating the scientific basis of the specialty.”

In order to accomplish the shared missions of ASRA and the WRAPM SIG, we have proposed the following Goals and Objectives:

  1. To provide a networking forum for women in ASRA to discuss and share ideas towards enhancing their professional development.
  2. To provide mentorship, sponsorship, and support to women in the early phases of careers in regional anesthesiology and pain medicine.
  3. To offer specific leadership training for women, with an emphasis on developing a pathway for advancement within ASRA, as well as individual academic and private institutions.
  4. To support research projects from women in regional anesthesiology and pain medicine.
  5. To increase participation of female medical students, residents, and fellows in the field.
  6. To recognize and promote the work of women in advancing the field through education, advocacy, research, and patient care.
  7. To advise ASRA on issues related to women in the practice of regional anesthesiology and pain medicine.

The WRAPM SIG aims to benefit all ASRA members, leveraging the excellent resources and tools that ASRA provides.  Please join us in supporting women in regional anesthesiology and pain medicine, and help us create new opportunities to advance the role of women in our profession.  We can’t wait to see all of you at our next meeting at the 2018 World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine in New York!


Join now!


Thanks to Edward Mariano, MD, MAS, and Andrea Nicol, MD, MSc, for reviewing this post and providing editorial comments.



  1. Association of American Medical Colleges. The State of Women in Academic Medicine: The Pipeline and Pathways to Leadership, 2015-2016. Published 2016. Accessed November 2, 2017.
  2. ACGME. ACGME Data Resource Book, Academic Year 2016-2017. Chicago, IL; 2017.
  3. Nahin RL. Estimates of pain prevalence and severity in adults: United States, 2012. J Pain. 2015;16(8):769-780. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.05.002.
  4. Mahr MA, Hayes SN, Shanafelt TD, Sloan JA, Erie JC. Gender Differences in Physician Service Provision Using Medicare Claims Data. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(6):870-880. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.02.017.
  5. Google Search. Google. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  6. American Society of Regional Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  7. All Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  8. Personal Communication. ASRA Membership Services. E-mail. Accessed October 18, 2017.

Tina Doshi, MD, is an assistant professor and postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and the chair of the Women in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine SIG.

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