May 29, 2008, - 10:03 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Because of commitments to family and other predilections, studies show that women doctors work far less hours than men, both here and in Great Britain.
Predictions are that there’s a looming, severe shortage of doctors in the next three years. I blame that on HMOs and other bad price-fixing forces that reduce the attraction for the best and brightest to go into medicine.
Businessweek says that with women dominating the medical field more and more (because of affirmative action and more support for female students than for males, far more women are now in college and medical school than men), this will make healthcare even harder to get, since they work less:
Finding a doctor could soon be even harder than paying for one. Various studies have projected a shortfall. . . .
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 “. . . [W]e need to take a balanced approach to recruitment.” . . .
Today women account for one-third of the physician workforce. In U.S. medical schools, they make up half the class. [DS: Actually, it’s well more than half, as repeatedly documented by USA Today.]
But even those who disagree with McKinstry’s position acknowledge that women doctors in the U.S. work less–47 hours per week on average, versus 53 for men. They also see about 10% fewer patients and tend to take more time off early in their careers. “It’s pretty much an even bet that within a year or two of entering practice they will go on maternity leave,” says Phillip Miller, a vice-president of the medical recruiting firm Merritt, Hawkins & Associates. “Then they are going to want more flexible hours.”
Such demands tend to irritate older doctors. “The young women in our practice are always looking to get out of being on-call,” says a male internist at a large New York-area medical group who asked not to be named. “The rest of us have to pick up the slack. That really stirs up a lot of resentment.“
Another example of this disaster is the absurd story of Dr. Sophie Currier.
All of this is a great-but-sad illustration of the failure of affirmative action. We gave a boost and pushed all the resources to women in a push to get them to go into medicine. And we ignored the men who wanted that career path. Now, as I noted above, women dominate medical school admissions and student bodies.
And since they work far less, we may have a healthcare crisis on our hands very shortly. Gender preferences at work.