Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dr. Crippen, Blog Fodder

Oh he's done it now. He has truly done it. I have spent several years of my life working to become a doctor, only to have Dr. Crippen suggest that perhaps I and other women physicians don't have a right to certain specialties or job flexibility. He quotes a Dr. Sarah Blayney, who writes:

"The training jobs as they stand are all or nothing. You either do all the hours or don't get the post. I want to pursue a career in hospital medicine, which will mean me committing to a minimum of five years of fairly hefty on-calls. "

At the moment I am 24, single and am enjoying life. But in four or five years time my situation may have changed and I may not want to work those hours."

She said flexible working would be particularly relevant to female colleagues wanting to start a family, but said male colleagues were also interested in changing their hours. For example, some wanted to take time out to travel, she added."
Note that the need for flexible job hours is cited as a concern for both men and women. However, Dr. Crippen takes it upon himself to limit this issue to women:
"It is right and proper that women can pursue a career in medicine. But at what stage do we decide that the needs of medical training can no longer be subsumed by the needs of working mothers?"
Perhaps Dr. Crippen would do well to remember that not all women are, or are planning to be, mothers. Perhaps he would do well to remember that here are many other reasons for limiting on-call and extended working hours---like retaining one's sanity. But that's OK because he also suggests that: "Sarah lives in cloud-cuckoo land. She wants the job but she is not prepared to do the hours....You need to grow up a little.... Just because you are a girlie, you can’t expect medical training to be turned on its head."

Good God. I thought we had grown beyond that. I thought I had left thinking like that behind on my surgery rotation, along with the bra-snapping resident and the resident who once complained about me scrubbing in: "I found a medical student to help, but she's a girl." Given that over half of all medical students in training today are female, it's truly time for this discrimination to be over.

So please feel free to visit NHS Blog Doctor today and leave a comment. The only comment I have to say right now is: "Sic 'em!"

[From Clink: Sigh...she insists on modifying my post again...At least I can modify her awful color choice.]
Guess What? The first half of Chapter 10 is up on Double Billing.


Gerbil said...

In a word:


Anonymous said...

the link isn't working....Dinah

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Midwife with a Knife said...

ARgh! I didn't realize he was this much of an ass. Um... This is not in his defense, but an interesting side note : because of the European Working Time directive, "hefty hours" in the UK is not the same as hefty hours here. They have pretty strict limits right at about 60 hours. Currently, I work over 100 hours a week, despite the American Board of Ob-Gyn limits on fellows work hours (which is the same as the RRC 80 hours limits).

Anonymous said...

Hi there

Dear oh dear, you are misquoting me and taking me out of context:

"Oh he's done it now. He has truly done it. I have spent several years of my life working to become a doctor, only to have Dr. Crippen suggest that perhaps I and other women physicians don't have a right to certain specialties or job flexibility."

At no time and at no stage do I say, or suggest, that women do not have the right to enter any specialty they like in medicine.

If you read the article I wrote properly, it is about ALL junior doctors in the UK assuming that medicine should be a cruise, assuming that they can get to the top of medicine by working a 48 hour week interspersed with back packing holidays.

All successful demanding careers demand sacrifices during training. They require long hours and dedication.

If you can't do the hours, don't expect the job.

You are being a bit sexist, you know. It works both ways. Men have to make a lot of sacrifices to achieve success in medicine. I don't see why you assume that women should not have to as well.


ClinkShrink said...

Pardon me, but by your statement, which I've quoted correctly, you imply that all women in medicine are potential working mothers who will want to do less than their fair share of training work. And you think I'm sexist?

In fact, even when women do the equivalent training work of male medical students we have to put up with much more on top of that which male medical students don't have to deal with. Male medical students don't have faculty people who take it for granted that they are pregnancies waiting to happen. Male medical students don't have to deal with bra-snapping residents or residents who leave girlie magazines in the call room. Male medical students don't have to with instructors who seem to forget they are in the room on rounds.

I have taken on extra clinical duties and extra call to cover for my peers who choose to get pregnant, and I have never hesitated or complained about this. I do think it should be our choice to do this. With more women entering medicine, this is a new fact of medical training life. If we want to keep medicine attractive as a viable profession we have to address the lifestyle issues. Neither women nor men should be expected to work endless hours with no time to eat, sleep or pee. It's not good for patients, the doctors or the profession.

Road Warrior said...

I read his whole post twice, and while I don't agree with him completely, I really don't see how he is being sexist. It is Sarah who brings up motherhood as a reason for shorter schedules, Dr. C points out that doctors have to make their medical education their priority.

Now, I have to say that I have only read one other post by Dr. C, so I am not taking into account any misogynistic tendencies he may have revealed in the past, but it sounds to me like he is frustrated with the attitudes of the newer generation of medical students in general, and this woman in particular, but not particularly because of her gender.


Bardiac said...

It's interesting that he complains about people taking training and then being unwilling to do "the job." Didn't he talk about having gone to law school (at Oxbridge, I think, and on the government's dime, or pound), and then deciding to go into medicine (again with government subsidy)?

Using terms such as "girlie" or "nursie," as he does often, tends to indicate a level of sexism. He'll deny it, and point to his wife, but there are lots of people who feel women in their family are exceptions, and the rest of us are something less.

Anonymous said...

Back in the dark ages of the late 60's when I was applying to clinical psych programs, I was told by one interviewer that I would be put on the waiting list despite the fact that I was well qualified because "it cost a lot to train a clinical psychologist and women either leave to get married or have a baby and waste the training." But that was 1968 and I was not surprised. But to persist in this kind of thinking in 2007 -- well, it is dumbfounding. I guess we haven't come such a long way after all.

NeoNurseChic said...

I've been asked at job interviews if I'm planning on getting married, moving into a house, and having kids within the first year... and I quickly shook my head and said, "Oh no....I'm not going to do that..."

How many men get asked that question?

Gerbil said...

Carrie--holy illegal interview questions, Batman! (I've been asked almost-illegal questions, but none has crossed the line that much.)

To throw another wrench into the discussion... My former clinical psych program bent over backwards to help accommodate students who had (or were in the process of producing) families--as long as they were straight. I, however, found my training opportunities intentionally restricted because my family consists of another woman.

I guess the dark ages were still alive and well in 2005.

Supermouse said...

I stopped reading Dr Crippen because of sexism, something about all women being housewives but some being clever enough to work outside the home as well. This was meant to be a compliment, can you believe? Innie genitals, rather than outie genitals, give half the population the magical power to clean toilets and wash dirty socks, but the clever ones can earn their upkeep too! What a privilege.

Anonymous said...

My dear colleagues and the sensitive.

Those of you in the US have a completely different type of postgraduate medical education than the commonwealth (I will exclude canada as it is the same as the US). Registrar -- specailist -- training is long: miniumum of 7 years post MB (basic medical degree). You cannot leave and practice at the end of residency: you must get a fellowship. In US terms, the term "board eligible" does not exist in the Commonwealth.

And it is getting longer. When I graduated in the later Jurassic we worked 80 - 100 hours a week for most of that time, and then the union managed to get it down to 50 -- 70 hours. We managed to see and manage in about 4 years the requisite thousand plus (I'm a psychiatrist, multiply by 5 to 10 for other disciplines) cases you needed to get your exams. We did not have a lifestyle: we were junior docs.

The current group of trainees do not do enough hours to get the experience in the shortened basic training period(s) the most recent UK/Australia/NZ reforms.

Dr C. (who is probably less grumpy than the average GP) is irritated by declining standards and people who don't work at it. If he can't nut of at a lass who does not understand the cost of the profession, (and I know he has written even more angrily about his wife's registrar who is gifted, and does not have a job because of the NHS) he wouldn't be himself.

Oh, in the commonwealth we still know how to use language: a local MP called Howard a Rascist bastard in public this week. Girlie is mild