Home' GP Pulse : GP Pulse February 2014 Contents Editorial
P2 : ISSUE 30 : February 2014
Too many women doctors?
At the beginning of December, I was fortunate enough to attend
one of the College’s orientation days for GPEP Year 1 registrars,
where I met some of our latest general practice registrars.
I was impressed by the diversity of talent we had in that room –
different ages, experiences, backgrounds and genders. But they all
shared an enthusiasm for their new career and for getting to know
the patients in their care and how general practice works.
There has been some controversy in the UK recently, where a
respected surgeon suggested there were too many women
doctors coming into the medical profession and that this was causing
a crisis within the NHS. His argument seemed to be that there wasn’t
the same return on investment from training women because they
went into less demanding professions, such as general practice, chose
to work par t-time and retired early.
As you’d expect, this caused an immediate and outraged
response from many, not least the Royal College of General
Practitioners (RCGP). Leaving aside Professor Thomas’s view of
general practice as a ‘less demanding profession’, I thought I’d examine
the figures in New Zealand, to see how we compare.
If you look at the latest Medical Council of New Zealand Workforce
Sur vey, you’ll see that women doctors now make up just over 41%
of the workforce compared with 8% in the early ‘70s. Within general
practice, 46% of doctors are women and this will increase over time,
with 59% of doctors going through vocational training being women.
Is this a bad thing and what does it mean for general practice in New
My interactions and discussions with female doctors, both those
vocationally registered and those in our training programme, have
left me with a strong sense of optimism about the contribution these
women want to, and can, make to
general practice in New Zealand.
This should come as no surprise
given the greatly increased
par ticipation of women at all levels,
and in all par ts, of New Zealand’s
workforce over the past 20 years.
This brings me to Margaret
Cruickshank, a woman we should
all be proud of and a great role
model for our female GPs. In
1897 Margaret became the first
woman to be registered as a doctor in New Zealand. She practiced
in Waimate, eventually becoming a par tner in the practice, until her
death in 1918 during the influenza epidemic.
This medical pioneer was held in such high esteem in her community
that the people of Waimate erected a memorial statue on which was
inscribed “The Beloved Physician/Faithful unto Death”.
I can see no reason why people should not have the same sentiments
about today’s female doctors, regardless of how many hours they work.
If, as Professor Thomas suggests, doctors working fewer hours is
causing such a crisis for continuity of care, then the answer is to create
systems that make sure this doesn’t happen, rather than restricting the
numbers of women entering the profession.
We want the best and brightest, and we want an environment where
they can provide their patients with the best possible care, whilst
having long and rewarding careers as clinicians and also as practice
owners and leaders in the sector.
The challenge we must all grapple with is how to make this a reality.
Helen Morgan-Banda, CEO
EdCon14 – Igniting ideas and innovation
The call for abstracts has gone out for the College’s fifth Education Convention.
high quality ser vices that positively impact New Zealand’s patients and
The call for abstracts is now open and will close on 14 March.
Submitters will be notified of acceptance in April.
For more information on EdCon14 and the call for abstracts process,
The College is holding its biennial Education Convention on Friday
16 and Saturday 17 May in Wellington. The Education Convention
is an opportunity for medical educators and in-practice teachers
from around the country to share and learn the latest teaching and
The theme for EdCon14 is ‘Igniting ideas and innovation’ and
delegates can expect to hear from a variety of speakers and engage in
workshops where the buzzwords will be social accountability, cultural
capability, teamwork and leadership, says College Education Advisor
‘With the challenges facing general practice today, in an ever-evolving
health system, EdCon14 delegates will be inspired to stay on top of
current trends and best practice in medical education, ensuring our
vocationally trained GPs are equipped to work effectively and provide
Key dates for EdCon 14:
Call for abstracts open – 13 Januar y 2014
Call for abstracts close – 14 March 2014
Registrations open – 3 March 2014
EdCon14 – 16 and 17 May 2014
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