Why are female doctors leaving medical profession

Though I agree with what Prof M C Gupta has elaborated but it skirts the core question. There are many reasons why a lot of female doctors leave medical profession;

1) Parents and society encourages girls to join medicine a respectable profession to increase their matrimonial prospects. This was actually stated by a young girl chronically absent in private medical college when asked by professor in front of the entire class why she joined medicine if she was not interested. So atleast some of them join, complete graduation get married and thereafter bid adieu to the profession because “in – laws” do not want her to work.

2) Excessive focus on things like "pediatric surgeon should not do pediatric urology". We, MCI and society in general has devalued MBBS as a degree. All of us now want to be pediatric surgeons with training / fellowship in pediatric urology and further specialization in uro oncology. Which means 24 yrs Internship, 25 yrs- 28 yrs PG one year preperation 29-32 yrs MCh / DM plus fellowships in urology/oncology/endoscopic ultrasonography/ =34-35 years.

3) When in between this race should a girl get married. If during the course the girl decides to get married even the female predominant gynae departments treat her like a pariah. Marriage during Post graduation is a big negative in eyes of our professors and seniors. If on top she gets pregnant ; only God can help.My own wife at full term delivered in the same labour room on the same day when she had done full labour room duty at esteemed PGIMER Chandigarh and was grudged her luxury of 1 week post partum leave which was well within her sanctioned casual leaves. Government talks of 6mths maternity leave but that is probably only for the 1st class citizens of India and not the female residents doing postgraduation in gynae at PGIMER.

4) When we say that a DM Gastroenterology needs to do further fellowship in Endoscopic ultrasonoraphy or POEM then obviously we mean that DM Gastroenterology / Cardiology / Endocrinilogy should only be done by male doctors because for females to break this "Iron ceiling" is well neigh impossible. We want our wives to be sweet 16 (OK sweet 24) but should ideally also be DM cardiology. Is it a surprise then that female doctors drop out from the rat race to be the paediatric endoscopic uro oncologist.

5) Having dropped out of the race female doctors (some of them exceedingly brilliant and more deserving than male counterparts) find it difficult to be "just" MBBS or work for few hours in the scarce jobs. 7 female doctors posted in Punjab Bhawan in Delhi is classic example of the doctor wives of high and mighty being adjusted against cushy postings even when no post is available. This luxury however is not available to a run of the mill female doctor who if is lucky to land a Government job is posted in a remote village and either live separate from her family or travel 4 hrs every day in public transport .

6) Our society (even us male doctors) wants their wives, daughters and daughter in laws to be doctors , gynaecologists , pediatricians and cardiologists but should be there to make the perfectly fluffed round chapati when the husband comes home. The combination is incongruous and ludicrous. Very few lucky female doctors find husbands and in laws who are supportive which is the reason most female doctors prefer to marry doctors who are more likely (not certain) to be more understanding of their predicament.

This wisdom for being more caring of our better halves comes only when one's daughter joins as first year resident in MS Ophthalmology as mine did. Though to be truthful I did my best during my wife's PG to be supportive and warded off 900 odd attempts by her to leave Post Graduation at PGIMER but then she has to be the judge of that

Dr Neeraj Nagpal 
Convenor,Medicos Legal Action Group, Managing Director MLAG Indemnity, 
Ex President IMA Chandigarh
Director Hope Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Clinic,
1184, Sector 21 B Chandigarh 
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