Doctors’ Reactions to “Don’t Quit This Day Job”

Female doctors working part-timeThere has been a lot of discussion generated by Karen S. Sibert’s op-ed in the New York Times called, “Don’t Quit This Day Job.” In it, Sibert, an anesthesiologist, argues that doctors, particularly female doctors, should stop working part-time as there is a shortage of doctors and our education is subsidized.

I wrote my own reaction post on the Huffington Post on “Why Doctors Should Be Allowed to Work Part-Time” in which I argue against several of Sibert’s posts.


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Other’s Reaction Posts

I came across several other reaction posts written by other doctors listed below. I’ve tried to summarize some of their main points but I encourage you to read the entire post for their full argument.

Dr. Linda Brodsky, an advocate for equality in Medicine
Are Women Physicians Destroying the Healthcare System?
Dr. Brodsky debates 4 of Sibert’s main points. She points out that being a full-time doctor is subjective, that productivity shouldn’t necessarily be measured by the number of patients seen, and that doctors can and should have other interests besides medicine. She also brings up an important point that woman have traditionally gone into primary care because of gender discrimination, a topic that Brodsky unfortunately knows all too well.

Dr. Katherine Chretien is the founder of Mothers In Medicine.
Don’t Give Up on Women in Medicine
Katherine points out that female doctors do spend up to 10% more time with their patients but are known to be more encouraging, supportive and patient-centered. She notes that being a mother and a physician are often complementary roles and that the increased flexibility of medicine has allowed women to follow their calling in medicine with out sacrificing having a full family life.

Dr. Michelle Au wrote this article for Psychology Today
The Mommy Wars, Medical Edition
Dr. Au is a full-time anesthesiologist just like Dr. Sibert. However, she finds Dr. Sibert’s views “sexist, inflammatory, and frankly discouraging.” She hopes that aspiring young doctors are not discouraged by the initial article and instead find role models that show them that women in medicine have choices and that their life doesn’t have to be defined their work.

Dr. Michelle Au also participated in a NPR radio interview along with Dr. Sibert, Medical journalist Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, and Dr. Laura Ment, Dean of Admissions at Yale School of Medicine.
After Earning MDs, Are Doctors Obligated to Keep Practicing Medicine?

Medical journalist, Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, also wrote an article for Psychology Today
Are Part-Time Doctors Bad for Medicine’s Health?
Dr. Randi disagrees that part-time doctors are apathetic or don’t love medicine as much as a full-time doctor does. She offers a number of suggestions to make a balanced life more possible for both men and women in medicine.

Surgeon, Chris Porter,
Shift Mentality – Kids these Days!
Dr. Porter wrote a related post where he pointed out that today’s male doctors face increased personal responsibilities at home. He argues that in the past, an older doctor “could fully dedicate himself to career and not face questions about his priorities until his grown children were in therapy.” His perspective shows that it’s not only women who need flexibility in the work-force.

Pediatrician,Dr. Jen Canter wrote
Dr. Jen’s Take on “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”
Dr. Jen points out that a stressed out mother is not going to be an effective doctor and that often times a medical student has no idea what their future will look like. She choose a non-surgical specialty after mentoring helped her realize she wanted a more flexible schedule.

OldMDGirl is a medical student working towards MD-Phd program in epidemiology.
Let them eat cupcakes
While she doesn’t know if she will ever have kids, she does know that she probably won’t always want to work 80 hours a week in patient care. Like many medical students she doesn’t know what the future holds but encourages everyone to make their own choices and ignore the naysayers.

If you’ve written a reaction post or have read another blog addressing this issue please leave a comment with a link.

It seems most doctors agree that forcing doctors to work more hours is not the solution. But something must be done to to address the doctor shortage. Please join the discussion at the Huffing Post and share your thoughts on improving the current medical system. I’m working on a follow-up post on better solutions for the doctor shortage than expecting all doctors to work full-time at all times.



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  • http://www.drdarrellwhite.com DrDarrellWhite

    Here’s a piece I wrote earlier in response to the response to a WSJ article on the same topic; it applies here as well. Hope you find it interesting. “TANSTAAFL and Mommy Track Doctors.”

    http://blog.skyvisioncenters.com/?p=428

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  • http://ironsalsa.wordpress.com Michael

    One of my doctor blogger friends wrote this very thoughtful response…
    http://bit.ly/msXmHn
    His name is Aaron Carroll and he is an excellent writer. He didn’t like the article one bit.

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  • http://www.expeditingtheinevitable.com Linda Brodsky, MD

    Better solutions for the doctor shortage:
    1. Make the healthcare workplace less toxic for women who work there. After listening to the NPR discussion, everyone is tiptoeing around the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
    2. Really understand the nature of the healthcare workforce–it was very disappointing that the “data” cited were not clean, and highly anecdotal and derivative.
    3. Confront the myths that becoming a surgeon is not compatible with flexibility, working a flexible schedule is not productive, hours worked mean better care, etc. (I have a long list).
    4. The doctor shortage comes from a variety of sources–the rapid expansion of what we can do for patients we couldn’t do 30 years ago (transplant, joint replacements, insulin pumps, implanted defibrillators, early stroke treatment)is a huge reason for this “shortage”. We have more to offer, the expectations are higher, we have to cope with increasing regulation (I used to see 60 ENT patients in a day, now I see 28 or so and my nurse PNP another 20 along side me). That is a significant decrease.
    5. Finally, another 800 pound gorilla, people are sicker–lifestyle diseases, mental illnesses, violence, etc. cannot be underestimated.
    I could go on, but I am sure you have other things to read! Keep at it Dr. Carolyn, you are really super.

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  • http://www.jamesloganmd.com James Logan

    I can see why this article triggered such a reaction in so many people. I’m a new, family practitioner, though male. I wrote a response on my blog here: http://www.jamesloganmd.com/?p=252

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  • melody

    I read this article and I’ve learned so many things. I will be back to see more.

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  • soria

    I haven’t read article in question but I do agree in the point the women doctor are much more responsible to their patient and that is what we really need. I really like talking to woman doctors than male doctors because it seems that male doctors don’t know how to empathize just a like a lady doctor can. So I think it is only a complimentary comment on the part of the writer.

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  • http://guidetodatingsmart.com/ Lori

    What can we do today?

    * Increase primary care residency program slots effective 2011 at teaching hospitals and pay more for those programs to increase.

    * Enact forgivable loans for all medical students who choose primary care and practice it for at least 5 years. We can’t enslave people forever.

    * Raise the Medicare reimbursement by 40%. Even that may not be enough to turn this ship around. The inequities are just too large.

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  • http://en.netlog.com/cliffmerchant/blog/blogid=4605296 Cliff merchant MD

    First, do not leave work until you find one that can both mentallly sastisfy and financially. It’s never good to feel burned on the job, but is near the end of the year, something good is going to rise soon. good luck.

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