Female Physicians Responsible for Shortage of Doctors?

A few weeks ago I read an interesting article on the topic of the shortage of physicians in the United States. Apparently, the increasing population and the baby boomers entering retirement is going to put a huge strain on this country. In terms of Social Security and Medicare, it already is. There is no doubt that the climate of decreasing reimbursements is due to the government’s inability to pay for the healthcare of so many aging people.

Thus, the shortage of physicians will increase as more doctors are needed to take care of our aging population.

One person’s analysis of some data shows that one key reason compounding this shortage is the changing demographic of the physician workforce. Currently, women make up an increasing part of the medical school populace, with most schools over half women. It is argued that the data show that women physicians:

  • have less longevity than their male counterparts,
  • take more time off for maternity and family matters, and
  • work less hours and take less overnight call.

Now I am not going to argue any of these points because I am not in the business of making enemies. However, I think those general points can be applied to the younger and newer generations of physicians, physicians-in-training, and medical students. Younger doctors are not working as long or hard as older physicians did. This is largely due to lifestyle considerations and well as work-hour restrictions in training.

Time are changing and the next generation of physicians are not going to stay up all night and take call at any hour of the day to maintain the physician-patient relationship.

Do female physicians work less than their male counterparts? Do they take less call? Do they get pregnant and leave the workforce for longer than male doctors? Maybe. Maybe not.

The point is that this is not necessarily a phenomenon of women, but of a new generation of physicians who demand sanity , mental and physical health in their own lives. After all, shouldn’t physicians take care of themselves the way they expect their patients to?


Dr. JC is a medical doctor who has a passion for health promotion and education.
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