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    To learn more about the WHEC fellowship, please email Wendy Wesley at WHEC@lifespan.org.  

  • Defining Women's Health, Sex and Gender

  • Originally, the notion of “women’s health” was synonymous with issues relating to childbearing, breast health and menopause. This concept has evolved in the past decade to include more than reproductive issues. Women’s health now depends upon complex interactions between biology, behavior and the environment.

    Sex- and gender-specific medicine is a relatively new science defined as the study of the differences in men and women and how they experience health and disease. “Sex” refers to biological differences between men and women such as chromosomes (XX or XY). “Gender” refers to the different roles and values men and women have in society. Every cell in the human body has a sex. Sex and gender are both critical variables that affect health and illness and are often integrated. The Institute of Medicine has drawn attention to the need for creating a sex and gender focus in medicine and has stated that utilizing a “gender lens” when caring for patients has the opportunity to change medical practice.

    The department of emergency medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University developed a division of sex and gender in emergency medicine (SGEM) (formerly Women's Health in Emergency Care) which aims to advance and promote sex and gender-specific research and medical care as they relate to medical emergencies.

    The emergency departments at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Hasbro Children’s hospitals have become a primary point of contact for patients in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas providing advanced acute medical care. Together, they represent the perfect setting to embrace the concept that differences between females and males will ultimately improve the precision and quality of healthcare for everyone.