The April 2016 ACEP Now article, “Emergency Medicine Workforce Needs More Women Physicians” by Kathleen Clem, MD, FACEP, sparked quite a bit of response after it was published online. We are including the comments here to illustrate the breadth of opinions on this topic.
Dan Marcus: So basically, this article could be shortened to read “men should be prepared to pay for women to be off to have a baby and men should work more night shifts to make it easier for their pregnant colleagues.” The article suggests that if these changes aren’t made, then patient care will suffer. I don’t support the subsidizing of coworkers’ life choices. I would, however, work extra if my colleague was unable to, whether they are male or female.
MB Lynch: Wow! Who pissed you off? Do you have any children? How would you feel about the mother of your child risking her life and your child’s life because they were so extremely overworked? Have you ever been pregnant? Breast fed a child or been so engorged you wanted to cry?
The author is not saying that men pick up the night shifts, but that everyone (including the non-pregnant females) help out for a few weeks for the mother and child’s health. Just like we do for our colleagues with family and personal emergencies.
You don’t want to pay for my life choices? You mean you don’t want to pay for me to create a life? How about if you get cancer (knock on wood) because you smoke…can I refuse you disability coverage? Additionally, I pay for short-term disability so that I could take maternity leave.
Women now make up 60 percent of medical students. Therefore, if medicine is going to survive, it needs to start to adjust to accommodate women doctors and our “choices to create life.” If men gave birth, I am sure they would demand better maternity leave and you would not have to pump in a bathroom. I’m sure you’d have a recliner with ESPN on a flat screen.
Get pregnant, give birth, and breast feed a child … then get back to me.
Women and their pesky uteruses are here to stay … get used to it.
Part of physician shortage is due to having 60 percent women in medical school and then that 60 percent are only working part time. Not a good plan for a national work-force issue. Finding a colleague who is willing to work nights and weekends and long stretches and extra shifts makes that person marketable.
Mark Buettner: Wow! MB Lynch, what a fantastic emotional rant that was. It was perfectly devoid of reason. Kudos to you. Let me give you some answers:
- I would be very upset if the mother of my child was risking her life and my child’s life. I would not tolerate it at all, as a matter of fact.
- I would advocate for women not to have children if they live a lifestyle that places them and/or their unborn children in a life-threatening position. This just makes sense, doesn’t it?
- I probably should not have to tell you but I will remind you that men cannot have babies. Nor can we breast feed babies. We don’t have the right plumbing.
- Yes, I think you should be able to refuse to pay for somebody’s disability. That should be the responsibility of Dr. Marcus. This would be similar to you taking time away from work should be your responsibility. I am willing to bet that he would agree with me.
- If you are asserting that medicine is at risk for not surviving because women now make up 60 percent of medical students, perhaps we should seek out more men to enter the field.
Glad to help.
george: I respect all the issues. The gender equality issues should not include pregnancy and time-off issues. The numbers are correct and there is a gender gap. I, on the other hand, see a greater crisis. I am a black male in the field of EM. I have watched the numbers of women leap over the years. Yet, the percentage of African-American males in the field is at a critical joke level. Women complain about their poor numbers, but you are more likely to see a patient with Ebola than a black ER doc. It is just the truth. I respect the issues of women. I am just waiting to turn over a patient to a doctor of color before I retire.
EM Doc: I agree in equality, but to critique objectively, the author doesn’t mention percent of women applying to EM residency. If it’s 50:50, then sure—good article. If it’s 30:70 women to men, then are we already being given preferential treatment (36 percent women residents)? It would be interesting if anyone has the data …
JDA: Women with “their pesky uteruses” can then work jobs where their uteruses don’t get in the way. Equality means equality, not one group subsidizing another. Women may be 60 percent of medical school graduates but they are not 60 percent of the workforce because they CHOOSE to balance their lives based on multiple factors, one of which is having children. Part of physician shortage is due to having 60 percent women in medical school and then that 60 percent are only working part time. Not a good plan for a national workforce issue. Finding a colleague who is willing to work nights and weekends and long stretches and extra shifts makes that person marketable. If you CHOOSE to have kids, try to be super-mom; expect your colleagues to work around you and your personal life, and you will have made yourself less marketable. That is not gender inequality; it is marketability. Until women are willing to sacrifice personal goals for professional goals, they will not be able to be represented equally. To me, that is fair, not sexist.
el rubio: My residency director in New York City would roll over in his grave. I remember a female resident once called in sick for PMS and another senior female resident drove to her apartment and physically dragged her back to work. I have not missed a day of work in 25 years.
In my experience, pregnant students, residents, and physicians are very reluctant to risk exposure to infectious diseases such as TB, HIV, trauma, meningitis, chicken pox, mumps, plague, etc. This forces me to risk my life more often then usual.