Regarding the article Universal coverage wont cure doc shortage: study:
The article on the doctor shortage misses the point. The elephant in the closet is what is behind the doctor shortage. Enrollment in medical schools has not changed much, and demand has not changed much, but what has changed has been the supply of doctors.
Women in medicine have been both a blessing and a curse. The trend has added much-needed diversity, sensitivity and talent to the practice of medicine.
However, it is probably more responsible for the doctor shortage than any other factor, the reason being that the vast majority of women physicians within three to seven years after medical school get married and pregnant. Who can blame them?
However, a tremendous number of these women doctors then drop out of the workforce for years and sometimes forever, something that male physicians rarely if ever did. In addition, many women doctors, if they do return to the workforce often do so part time and not full time. Some women do not get married, or pregnant; some do get pregnant and do return full time. However, enough do not that it has impacted the shortage within our great land.
So what is the answer? I call tell you what the answer is not. It is not to ban women from medicine. Their contributions have been huge and wonderful. The medical schools have to adjust their enrollments to compensate for the attrition rate of women doctors and increase enrollment accordingly, sort of like overbooking airline seats. They basically know how many people will not show. The country can determine statistically the drop-out rate and compensate for it.
Until we are willing to recognize the cause, and compensate for it, the large drop-out rate of women doctors, we will always have a doctor shortage.
Peter G. HillBoston
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