This week marks the beginning of National Women’s Health Week, a weeklong health observance by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). According to the CDC, 15.6% of women over the age of 18 are in fair or poor health1.
At Blaze Advisors, this is not a statistic we take lightly. With a leadership team that is more than 50% female, women’s health is at the forefront of our minds as we work to achieve the Blaze Advisors mission of Saving Lives, One Population at a Time.
Today, we sat down with the women who comprise Blaze Advisors’ leadership team to discuss their experiences as women and as professionals working in the healthcare industry and how they’re working to change the statistics for women across the country.
Addressing the Whole Person
It’s appropriate for National Women’s Health Week to kick off every year on Mother’s Day, as so many women struggle to find the time to take care of themselves while juggling careers, children, households, and their regular day-to-day demands. To make things more challenging, with the worldwide pandemic still looming over the country and the world, the CDC is reporting substantial disruptions in routine, non-emergency care, with 4 in 10 U.S. adults avoiding medical care because of COVID-192.
This is alarming, especially with a virus whose symptoms are exacerbated by conditions commonly found in women. In fact, in research conducted by the CDC in women over the age of 20, 41.8% were obese and 45.2% suffered from hypertension3.
With routine well-woman care not always guaranteed, it’s critical that providers look beyond symptoms on paper to focus on the whole person when female patients do make it into the office. Through her own experiences as a nurse, Deb Aldridge, Blaze Advisors’ Senior Vice President, has found the power in evaluating the big picture instead of treating symptoms. When it comes to patient care, Deb says, “I’ve perceived that men [providers] tend to be more laser focused, while women [providers] have more of a radar. As a nurse, I was trained to look at more than immediate needs and symptoms. While providing bedside care, I administered and monitored direct care such as medicines and next steps for the care team, but also other aspects including familial, spiritual, and personal.”
The Stress Factor
One big aspect that can be found in the lives of many women – stress. According to OASH, the Office on Women’s Health, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of stress4. And, with links to obesity, heart problems, depression and anxiety,4 and more, stress can be devastating.
According to OASH, there are basic steps that women can do to mitigate stress and improve overall health, from small steps like stretching and taking deep breaths throughout the day to making overall lifestyle improvements such as moving more, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet4. This positive approach to stress looks different for everyone. For Blaze Advisors’ Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Kathy Smith, it’s about finding an equilibrium. Says Kathy, “My identity as a woman, and especially a southern woman, has taught me to balance my leadership position, a family, household, and continue to do the things I do to feed my soul such as spend time with close friends and practice yoga.”
Another great practice for women: establishing trust with your primary care provider. For a lot of women, that trust comes from a fellow female. Says Blaze Advisors’ Senior Vice President, Jill Lineberger, “I feel like there’s a shared bond among most women, who typically prefer women providers since they can relate to how you’re feeling. It’s usually easier to identify with and talk to them to jump start the conversation and work toward a solution.”
How to Help
While National Women’s Health Week only takes place one week a year, women’s health is an issue that needs attention each and every day, which begs the question – where do we go from here?
For women, continue to make small changes to improve your health outlook and empower your female friends to join in with you. Invite a friend for a walk. Make it a goal to schedule that yearly physical and pay attention to cues that might indicate stress in your life.
For supporters, advocate for the women in your life by finding ways to help alleviate stress and encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Together, we can create a world where all women can lead a healthy and happy life.
For more information visit: https://www.womenshealth.gov/nwhw/about.