Are Women Doctors Contributing to a Doctor Shortage?

About 30 percent of doctors in the United States are female, and women received 48 percent of the medical degrees awarded in 2010. But their productivity doesn’t match that of men […] even full-time female doctors reported working on average 4.5 fewer hours each week and seeing fewer patients than their male colleagues […] 71 percent of female pediatricians take extended leave at some point—five times higher than the percentage for male pediatricians […] This gap is especially problematic because women are more likely to go into primary care fields—where the doctor shortage is most pronounced—than men are. Today 53 percent of family practice residents, 63 percent of pediatric residents and nearly 80 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residents are female.

Full article on the correlation between women doctors and the doctor shortage.

Comments (6)

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  1. Simon says:

    The author states…”It’s fair to ask them — women especially — to consider the conflicting demands that medicine and parenthood make before they accept (and deny to others) sought-after positions in medical school and residency.”

    It might be fair, but I am pretty sure that is currently illegal.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Recently there was an article in the journal Health Affairs about how female physicians are trailing their male counterparts in earnings. Part of the reason is that increasingly female doctors are picking specialties with a better work/life balance and don’t particularly want to spend 60 hours per week at the office (this trend is also true of men).

    In the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, one doctor made the comment that male doctors from years past might have had a stay-at-home “doctors” wife (presumably spending lots of money). In the age of two-income families, both male and female doctors are increasingly cutting back and demanding some balance to their lives.

  3. Bruce says:

    These are intersting points to consider — especialy before we do something like increasing the subsidies for medical students, making their entire medical education thing free, for example.

  4. Brian Williams. says:

    What about allowing more student slots in medical colleges? That might help solve the doctor shortage.

  5. Chris says:

    Wow, that woman is off her rocker. This kind of attitude is scary, she is just one manifesto away from saying that the government should force Doctors to work full time. I don’t need to be a psychic to tell you that I’m pretty sure on which side of the political divide she falls on. Why is it, any government healthcare monopoly, always boils down to the use of force against Doctors. Forced acceptance or enrollment in the government programs, forced to live in certain locations or practice certain specialties. As Ayn Rand would say, it boils down to the proverbial point of a gun. Education is also important to our country, right? Why don’t we make teachers work year round? Can you imagine the riots.

    Maybe I take this personally, I just paid for my wife to go through medical school, and now she is in residency (making very little), and when she is done, guess what, she plans to work mostly part time. As is her right (for now).

    The author seems to portray medical school as a gift, taxpayer supported, that is BS. Many graduate programs are taxpayer supported. If you can get into a PhD program in physics or sociology or music, you won’t be paying much tuition. Law school and medical school though, you will. Because they know your job, post graduation, will be enough to pay back the debt they can charge you full price. It isn’t subsidized by tax payers like ungraduate liberal arts degrees at a state school are. For that matter, if you’re going to follow this authoritarian logic, why not punish doctors (or any profession) who attend a state school, but then move to another state to work after graduation? The taxpayers of the state they went to school got screwed! Should we act like the NLRB to Boeing and forbid people from moving. Not to mention, what about private medical schools?

    The author also acts like a residency is a gift. Without residents many hospitals would cease to function. They’re getting paid roughly the equivalent of $12 an hour to do all the grunt work, be on call, work overnight, really long shifts. It isn’t as if they are merely shadowing an attending all day. They’re seeing patients, independently, writing orders, prescriptions. It is a gift to the hospital that a graduate of medical school is willing to work seeing patients for $12 an hour. It is not a gift to the resident.

    Also, let us not forget medical school is not 4 years of really expensive classroom work. It is 2 years of class work, then 2 years of hospital rotations, where you’re paying… $30,000 a year to work for a hospital. They don’t pay you, you pay them and put in 80-90 hour weeks. Granted, at this point, you are more or less shadowing, but you’re still able to do small tasks, fetch things, paperwork, etc, and you’re free labor. A slow student can slow a doctor down, I know, but they are paying $30,000 to be there.

    A doctor is not a second class citizen with limited rights and choices. They have the right to work part time, and they also have the right to not work at all if they don’t want to. No one, no one, is entitled to the fruits of another’s labors unless those fruits are willingly given.

  6. Silvia says:

    Great comment Chris !!!