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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