Female doctors are good for medicine

4 April 2008

Professor Jane Dacre, Vice-Dean and Professor of Medical Education at UCL, rebuts the notion that the growing number of females doctors is bad for medicine in an article that appears in the ‘British Medical Journal’ today.

femaledoctors

Professor Dacre argues that although women outnumber men in most medical schools, they are under-represented in some areas, particularly clinical academia and specialties requiring more acute and on-call responsibilities and more technical skills. She proposes that there should be a focus on ensuring equality of opportunity in medicine, as the profession needs and wants to attract the best and brightest people regardless of sex.

In order to welcome more women into senior positions, she says, institutional barriers that prevent their progression – such as a lack of rota flexibility, low acceptance of career breaks and part-time working – need to be addressed. The feminisation of medicine, she continues, should be welcomed as an opportunity to be creative with workforce planning and to recognise that more flexible working is essential to delivering good quality patient care at all times of the day and night.

Professor Dacre’s defence of the talents and strengths of female medical graduates, who will soon be the majority of doctors in the UK, countered the views of Brian McKinstry, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, who claimed that rising numbers of female GPs will lead to a shortfall in primary care provision unless employment behaviour changes.

To read the full article and find out more about Professor Dacre's work, follow the link at the top of this item.