Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Do Female doctors hurt productivity?

Forgive me for taking so long to get back to this article (from May 20) I seemed to have a hectic time from Victoria Day until Fathers Day. I am grateful to Robert Franklin at for also picking up on the report.

The story is that a whole cohort of newly recruited doctors work less (30 hrs per week) than their older peers (35 hrs per week). Dr. Robert Ouellette, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said medical schools need to train even more doctors than they do now. The new generation of physicians -- both male and female -- tends to work fewer hours generally than older colleagues, he said. This has altered the assumptions upon which manpower projections have been made. To remedy the situation someone sensibly did a study on it suggesting we need to increase funding to attract more doctors - either as intake through teaching or by overseas recruitment.

One may think such foresight would be applauded. WRONG!

With 60% of enrolled medical students female the question somehow became seen as an attack on women. An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last year that urged "ending the sexist blame game."

The author of the report, Dr. Mark Baerlocher, a radiology resident at the University of Toronto, said he agrees women should not be blamed, but lamented a general reluctance in the medical profession to examine controversial issues, such as gender differences and abortion. "There are a lot of topics that aren't adequately studied, because it's deemed a socially sensitive topic."

Footnote: CBC Radio The Current - Bob MacDonald did an interview with Dr. Baerlocher in Hour3 on May 29, 2009. Click here for the interview (in MP3). It is interesting that Dr. Bob EVANS - an economist has written on this topic before (1999).

[Ed: National Post reporter Tom Blackwell seems to spend an awful lot of time sympathizing with feminist positions. At the same time he does some pretty good reportage in a vital "beat" for the National Post. I had this vigorous email exchange with him at the end of May about another of his articles that minimized the incidence of paternity fraud in a story about liver transplants.]

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