Problems in the Health system can’t wait until 2020, especially the one caused by too many female doctors in general practice. It’s time we gave some serious thought to whom we enrol in Medicine. We need more doctors, especially in rural areas, but we have the proportion of female doctors to male doctors wrong.
When I last wrote about this topic in a letter to the Courier-Mail several years ago I received various responses. Doctors who ran G.P practices agreed with me. One female manager told me that she can’t rely on the female G.Ps to keep to a schedule because of family commitments. Other young female doctors, objected to my “sexism”. This reaction did not surprise me.
My opinion has not changed. In fact, the problem is even worse nowadays. We should reduce the number of females going into general practice. Whilst I believe in equal rights for women, I am convinced that medical practice for a woman is not a cost-effective choice for the public. She may do well out of the practice but the patients are being short-changed.
My objection to female G.Ps is that they often only work part-time, say three days a week, and only during school hours. Not very practical when you need a doctor in a hurry.
This work pattern does not reimburse the expenditure by taxpayers for an expensive medical degree. Remember that HECS does not entail full repayment, so we, the public, are out of pocket if female doctors choose to only work part-time.
Such doctors cannot give their full attention to patients, nor can they be around when they are needed at all hours of the day and night.
A part-time doctor does not provide continuity. Patients prefer to consult doctors who are familiar with their cases. To have to explain the symptoms all over again is tiresome, expensive and potentially life-threatening. We need doctors who know us.
I can appreciate that female doctors want to be around for their children. That’s what mothers are for. But it’s not good for us.
If a male doctor had the same part-time practice I would object just as strongly to that as well. But, it is usually the females who choose part-time careers for obvious reasons.
So it’s not a question of sexism but rather one of serving the public at an optimal level.
I have just read a summary from Business Week (28th April 2008 issue – 18th April) which supports my argument:-
ARE THERE TOO MANY WOMEN DOCTORS?
By Catherine Arnst,
Finding a doctor could soon be even harder than paying for one. Various studies have projected a shortfall of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 physicians in the U.S. relative to demand by 2020, and the Institute of Medicine, a federal advisory body, just reported that in a mere three years senior citizens will be facing a health-care workforce that is “too small and woefully unprepared.” This looming shortage is forcing into the open a controversy that has been cautiously debated in hospitals and medical practices for some time: Are women doctors part of the problem? It’s not the abilities of female doctors that are in question. It’s that study after study has found women doctors tend to work 20% to 25% fewer hours than their male counterparts. The British Medical Journal went public with the debate on Apr. 5 when it published a commentary by Dr. Brian McKinstry, a general practitioner at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, titled “Are There Too Many Female Medical Graduates? Yes.” McKinstry argues that “society still expects women rather than men to reduce work commitments to look after children and not to return to full-time work until the children are older.” He laments the unfairness of it all but concludes that “in the absence of a profound change in our society in terms of responsibility for childcare, we need to take a balanced approach to recruitment.”
Similarly, in Australia we have to adjust the ratio of males to females studying Medicine and this change cannot wait until 2020. By 2020 more than 60% of medical students will be female. Sir Llew Edwards disclosed to a meeting three years ago in Queensland that more females than males were already studying medicine in some medical schools, so the future looks even bleaker for us.
It’s worthwhile reading the original article in the British Medical Journal.
But try to suggest such an adjustment at the Summit and I would have been howled down by every suffragette in the place. Mind you, it was okay for Rudd to fudge the figures to ensure that 50% of the Summiteers were indeed female.
So if you were a bloke with a brilliant new idea for the Summit, you had less chance of being invited than a female with an idea that wasn’t so great. Now that’s what I call SEXISM!