Don’t Quit This Day Job

The New York Times picked up my opinion piece about women in medicine.

I’M a doctor and a mother of four, and I’ve always practiced medicine full time. When I took my board exams in 1987, female doctors were still uncommon, and we were determined to work as hard as any of the men.

Today, however, increasing numbers of doctors — mostly women — decide to work part time or leave the profession. Since 2005 the part-time physician workforce has expanded by 62 percent, according to recent survey data from the American Medical Group Association, with nearly 4 in 10 female doctors between the ages of 35 and 44 reporting in 2010 that they worked part time.

Read the full article in the Times.


I enjoy your writing and certainly see your points in this article. Though I am not sure that I completely share your views as to “ownership” of the privilege of a medical education. Though it is a privilege to get a medical education and then there is a duty to serve–doesn’t that honor and duty still basically belong to the person who worked and continues to work to achieve this? That’s my humanist side speaking.

With that being said. Let’s look at how mid level practitioners are addressed here:

“We often hear the argument that nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and physician assistants can stand in for doctors and provide cheaper care. But when critical decisions must be made, patients want a fully qualified doctor to lead the health care team.”

In fact, patients do often need and get a physician to lead their health care team. But are nurse practitioners and physician assistants less than a “fully qualified doctor” when they are not doctors at all? Lets describe these practitioners as what they are –fully qualified nps or pas, not as something less than what they never tried to be in the first place.



Hi, Marjorie–

Thanks so much for writing, and for your kind comments about me on your blog!

What you say about NPs and PAs is perfectly true, and no disparagement is implied. However, many people in government and hospital administration are looking to cut costs by using NPs and PAs INSTEAD of physicians, not as they were intended–as physician extenders and colleagues, working together. Nowhere is this more evident than in the evolution of the nurse anesthetists’ lobby. Go to the AANA website if you think I’m exaggerating. Nurse anesthetists truly believe they can and should function without any physician involvement at all, despite the obvious differences in education and training.

Best of luck! Please continue reading, and I’ll follow your blog with interest.

All the best,

Karen Sibert


Dr Vinny

Dr Sibert
Very nice article. As a practicing anesthesiologist in a rural setting I stumbled across all the blogs that you have written about including skeptical scalpel, Kevinmd etc. I also follow Malone malpractice lawyer website.

Anesthesiologists are having to work very hard and take care of sicker patients and work night shifts. This takes it’s toll on the physical health/ emotional burn out. Here work life balance is very important to younger physicians. The hospital environment abuses anesthesia providers. Why do I have a moral obligation to the society when the society doesnot acknowledge my value? It’s not about the money. It’s respect that we deserve for sacrificing personal life. I don’t want a full time corporate job in a corporate hospital that has no loyalty to me. Moreover these hospitals have made no investment on the physicians and can fire them for frivolous reasons. All the more reason to do part time jobs in different hospitals.
It just cannot be status quo that the hospitals make all the profits at the expense of hard working young doctors/nurses. As a tax payer I want to know how these so called non profit hospitals get paid?
We need to reform, educate the general public, politicians.




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