Feminisation Of Medicine

Published on HRM Gide, A debate in the British Medical Journal, June 12 2008.

A debate in the British Medical Journal earlier this year questioned whether the UK is producing too many female medical graduates. Brian McKinstry, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh commented:

“Increasing numbers of female graduates will create a major shortfall in primary care provision and may also affect education, research, and development. Evidence is growing to demonstrate the negative consequences of the feminism of primary care in the UK and elsewhere. For example, fewer women than men choose to work out of hours, and the increase in women doctors may have partly influenced the recent abandonment out of hours work by general practitioners in the UK”.

Brian McKinstry argues that the full impact of this trend lies in the future. For example, the majority of general practitioners over 45 years, mostly working full time, are male whereas those under 45 are mostly female and working part time. Unless employment patterns change, there will be a major shortfall in primary care provision as older doctors retire …

… Jane Dacre added: “The feminisation of medicine should be welcomed as an opportunity to be creative with workforce planning and to recognise that a more flexible way of working is essential to delivering good quality patient care at all times of the day and night.”

In an accompanying editorial, Jenny Firth-Cozens from The London Deanery, acknowledged the need to take the proportional rise in female doctors into account. However, she warns that any comparison of the cost of employing male or female doctors must include estimates for poor performance, litigation, re-education, and rehabilitation that are consistently higher for men. (full text).

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