Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Woman in Medicine

Woman in Medicine, so what's the problem??
courtesy of Nayzak

Being a member of medscape, I, sometimes find some time to read the blogs of medical students or doctors posted in Medscape because most of them are very beneficial. Today, one topic drives my attention, it was "Woman in Medicine, Betrayal or Trust". The post was written by Elizabeth Wiley, a medical student, she was commenting on a published piece from New York Times by a female anaesthesiologist. I find some part of her post quite true. This is part of her post:

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Karen Sibert, an anesthesiologist, published a piece in the New York Times called "Don't Quit This Day Job." In this op-ed, she argues that "[m]edicine shouldn't be a part-time interest to be set aside if it becomes inconvenient; it deserves to be a life's work." The crux of her piece takes issue with the decision by many female physicians to work less than their male counterparts, whether in the form of extended leave or more permanent part-time work. To Dr. Sibert, such a decision is a betrayal of public trust and misuse of public investment in medical training.

Having just finished my anesthesia rotation as part of general surgery, I have to say that I find it a little shocking that this anesthesologist would make such an argument. Anesthesia is well-known for being a competitive "lifestyle" specialty among medical students and, compared to general surgery, for example, seems to live up to the label in practice as far as I can tell. This is not to say that anesthesologists aren't incredibly important; rather, their work schedules seem to be particularly amenable to "work-life balance" and family life. Dr. Sibert repeatedly references the primary care shortages facing our country, but it's a little difficult to take her seriously given the choice that she made. I wonder -- did she betray society too with her specialty choice? Shouldnt we all be obligated to choose the specialties with the greatest need? Where does the obligation begin and end? But I digress....
As a (relatively) young woman in medicine, I was horrifed to read Dr. Sibert's piece. Her argument is bluntly shortsighted. The culprit in the current physician shortage is not women who go to medical school and dare to start a family. Instead, I'd start with the centuries of oppression and gender discrimination that have created an "advanced, civilized society" in which women are still insidiously expected to assume responsibility for all things domestic. Of course, having made it this far in medical school, I have to admit that women do bear the biological burden of gestation and childbirth. But that's not the genesis of this problem. 

Her post reminded me of what my naqibah always told me. Women and men are different and they are meant for different purposes on earth. Quotting from the holy Quran in surah Al-Imran, verse 36, when Imran's wife had pledged to consecrated whatever that is in her womb for Allah's, but then she give birth to a baby girl, Maryam, she says;


But when she delivered her, she said, "My Lord, I have delivered a female." And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, "And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ]."

True enough, men and woman are not the same, pshysically and mentally too. The wife serve a larger role in upbringing of a child compare to the father. Even how busy a wife would be, she can never run away from that fact. Being a female doctor, it would be a challenge. Therefore, a reminder to us all, to always keep this at heart. 

To add up to what Elizabeth mentioned, it is not the problem that there are more woman in medicine who dare to start a family,  but to me it is what had become to the world now that woman are assumed to take up the same role as men. There is nothing wrong with female doctors, we need female doctors to treat female patients and in some areas of medicine such as pediatrics and O&G where the female role is predominant. (so to all those men who thinks that female doctors made a bad wife, I wouldn't want you as a husband anyway, good female doctors who understand human and health make the best of mothers and wife, duhhh~~~!) The problem is that, we should be aware of the circumstances. Woman bears a responsibility towards family upbringing and the men would have a larger role as the breadwinner in the family (or pemenang roti as my mother calls it :DD). It is only acceptable that there are difference in the workload and expectations of woman in medicine. 

But to start something as big as changing the whole healthcare organization system require a great deal of public understanding. But just a point for all of us to ponder on, when the time comes for a chance to change, we should give it our full support, that's all I'm saying.

No comments: