Should Women Become Doctors?

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By Patsy Campos

Because women have traditionally been the primary caretakers of their families, work/life balance is always a challenge. In a recent editorial, Dr. Karen Sibert argues that in the medical profession (especially for doctors), women may find it harder to actually find a balance between their home life and their medical practice.  She advises women to seriously consider their career choice before even going to medical school. 

Dr. Sibert feels that because so many women doctors are choosing to work part-time or leave the medical profession altogether due to family demands, the United States is on its way to a doctor shortage. She thinks that many women need to be more committed to their careers as doctors because, unlike other careers, doctors are responsible for the lives of their patients; therefore, they are always needed. Dr. Sibert’s claims are backed by studies that show that there has been an increase in the number of doctors who work only part-time or who leave the medical profession. Moreover, most of those doctors have been women. Besides the commitment doctors have to their patients, Dr. Sibert also feels that doctors have a responsibility to taxpayers whose taxes subsidize the medical schools and teaching hospitals that educate and train them.

Dr. Sibert’s article has received many comments on this issue, both in her support and opposing her. In every profession working women are challenged with balancing family life and work life, but the medical profession may be one that makes finding this balance more challenging for women doctors.  Should women doctors put more commitment into their careers and patients than their families? Or is it possible for a woman doctor to have both a successful career and a happy family? I think that, for years, men have been able to have successful careers as doctors, and women should be able to do the same. Whether her success is defined as a full-time doctor/part-time mother, part-time doctor/ full-time mother, or any combination of the two, it is an individual choice for a woman to make both aspects (work and family) fit into her life. Furthermore, she should be able to make this choice without being judged about her commitment to her career or to her family.