Dr. Dawg

Swine flu at the National Post

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Check out this article in the National Post about female doctors in Canada. Seems to me it's high time to dust off that venerable term, "male chauvinist pig," and fast-pitch it Post-wards.

Maclean's magazine is a mite defensive this week. Seventeen months ago, it published an in-depth report about female doctors, and the pressures upon them:

Journalists Cathy Gulli and Kate Lunau examined how professional, personal and domestic demands create a perfect storm for many female physicians, who cope by working fewer hours, taking on fewer patients or leaving medicine altogether. They also reported on the premium care provided by many of these doctors, which has made them more sought-after by patients and, paradoxically, more overwhelmed and susceptible to burnout. Leading experts called for various solutions such a increased medical school enrollment, Canadian accreditation of foreign medical schools, and benefit packages for physicians. No one blamed female doctors or recommended curbing their numbers. [emphasis added]

Maclean's took some heat, perhaps unfairly, for that. But today the Post deserves whatever blowtorching it gets for its treatment of a new study on the issue.

Let's begin with the hed: "Female doctors hurt productivity: report." Good grief, need one read further? Why didn't those chicks stay home or just stick to nursing?

And it's all laid out afresh in the first paragraph:

The growing ranks of female physicians in Canada will slash medical productivity by the equivalent of at least 1,600 doctors within a decade, concludes a provocative new analysis of data indicating that female MDs work fewer hours on average than their male colleagues.

In fairness, this isn't quite the tack taken by the new study's lead researcher, Mark Baerlocher. Acknowledging that female doctors do work shorter hours, without delving into why this might be the case, Baerlocher suggests the obvious: the current doctor shortage should be tackled by training more doctors. Well, as the kids say, duh. (Another positive move might be to resolve the current credentials problem encountered by foreign-trained physicians.)

the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Robert Ouellette, responding to the report, notes that the quality as well as the quantity of physician care is important. There is evidence, he says, that female doctors "spend more time with patients, are better communicators and offer more preventive medicine."

But, although the news story contains much of interest, including Dr. Ouellette's remarks, the Post's own bias is glaring. Using a purr-word like "productivity" and a snarl-word like "hurt," the tone is set from the beginning. It's all the women's fault, clogging up our medical schools and then dogging it once they graduate. They're displacing men who are willing to put in the time it takes. And meanwhile the patient waiting-lists grow.

We know why women work shorter hours, of course: it's the old "double day" syndrome. In 2009, they still carry the lion's share of household responsibilities, even when they hold demanding jobs outside the home. Maybe the male partners in the picture--not to mention the insufferable chauvinists at the National Post--could do their parts to solve the female "productivity" problem by learning to push a broom, cook a meal and change a diaper.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 21, 2009 12:50 PM.

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