University of Minnesota Alumni Association



"Physicians' Pay Gap," "Immigrants and COVID-19," and "Measuring Global Temperatures"

Photo Credit: Yuri_B/Pixabay

Physicians’ Pay Gap

It’s an established fact that female primary care physicians earn less than their male counterparts—30 percent less. Now, a study by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and network medical records company athenahealth sheds new light on the potential cause of this pay gap.

Using insurance claims and electronic health data from athenahealth, researchers measured patient care revenue, visit volume, and visit length. They found that each year, female primary care physicians earned 10.9 percent less total visit revenue than male physicians and conducted 10.8 percent fewer visits. But in a telling finding, they spent 20 additional hours (2.6 percent more time) with patients. At appointments, female physicians placed more orders, made more diagnoses, and spent 2.4 minutes longer with patients than male doctors. Researchers say that extra time (which means female physicians can see fewer patients) accounts for the pay disparity.

The tension between wanting to spend time with patients but needing to generate a higher number of visits may, researchers say, also explain why female primary care physicians are at a greater risk for job burnout.

This study appeared in the October 1 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Immigrants and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted everyone equally. In fact, Black, Indigenous, and other people from communities of color are at a higher risk of dying or developing serious complications from the virus. In response to these sobering realities, the U of M’s Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) has launched the Immigrants in COVID America project. A collaboration with the Sahan Journal, which is an online newsroom focusing on news impacting refugees and immigrants, the initiative documents the health, economic, and social impact of COVID-19 among these communities.

The project addresses the layers of challenges currently facing these communities, including new restrictions on the number of immigrants and refugees allowed to enter the United States. “Some are facing increased racism and hate crimes, while others face an upended immigration and refugee admissions system in the U.S.,” says Erika Lee, a Regent’s Professor of History and Asian American Studies.

The Immigrants in COVID America website is a curated collection of news reports, data, editorials, and other documents, which is regularly updated. The goal is to create a historical record of the pandemic, as well as a resource for news gatherers, scholars, advocates, and the general public. Topics include immigration policy, the economy, health, and anti-Asian xenophobia. In addition to posting content from trusted news sources, the team will also create original stories and update the news feed throughout 2020. The project’s creators hope it will become a trusted source of information for anti-racist advocacy.

You can learn more about Immigrants in COVID America at

Measuring Global Temperatures

When it comes to measuring the impacts of climate change, even a 1- or 2-degree temperature difference can mean huge impacts in weather-related natural events, from hurricanes to droughts. Recognizing the need for the most accurate temperature measurements possible, a team of data scientists from the U of M’s Population Center and the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California-Santa Barbara produced and validated a new data set that provides high-resolution, daily temperatures from locations around the world.

The new data set, which is called CHIRTS-daily, combines weather station data, remotely sensed infrared data, and weather simulation models to provide maximum and minimum air temperatures from 1983 to 2016, with the goal of eventually updating findings in near real time.

The resulting findings will include regions that previously were considered “data-sparse,” including Africa, which is expected to experience some of the most dramatic hazards caused by climate change. People who live in areas with unrecorded weather data are often more vulnerable to weather-related hazards. The hope is the CHIRTS-daily will help researchers monitor and mitigate the impacts of extreme heat waves on these populations.

“It’s important to have this high-resolution because of the wide-ranging impacts—to health, agriculture, infrastructure. People experiencing heat waves, crop failures, droughts—that’s all local,” says Andrew Verdin, a research scientist at the Minnesota Population Center.

These findings were originally published in the September 14 issue of Scientific Data.

Great thanks to the team at University Public Relations for their help in compiling this information.

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