A TRIBUTE TO WOMAN PHYSICIANS
Women In Medicine : Career & Life Management, 3rd edition (2002) by Marjorie A Bowman, MD, MPA, Erica Frank, MD, MPH and Deborah I Allen, MD (Paperback)
Springer Verlag, Springer-Verlag, GmbH & Co.KG, Tiergartenstrasse 17, D-69121 Heidelberg, Germany.
xvi + 187 pages, ISBN 0-387-95309-4. Soft cover, Price: Euro 49.95
Women in Medicine : Career and life Management is the all new revamped and refreshingly modern third edition of its forerunner Stress & Women Physicians. The book, backed by extensive and impressive research, largely conducted by the Women Physicians Health Survey and other independent researchers, right from the 19th century to the present day is a monument in tracing the life goals and challenges of women from the womb to the tomb. It showcases the unique issues faced by women in general and women physicians in particular.
The book begins with a historical background of women in medicine & the discrimination against them and progresses to refute the archaic notion that if you educate women they somehow otherwise become bereft, or that a woman's head is too small for intellect and just big enough for love. It brings to the fore lesser known facts like though women have practiced medicine for many centuries (almost as many as men!) they are still the minority when it comes to leadership posts. In that sense it is a timely and opportune book as the number of women physicians is steadily on the rise.
Women in Medicine lucidly identifies the stresses that ail women physicians and collates them with their male counterparts as well as nonphysician women. These stresses are identical in a large part but for the added responsibility on women physicians of balancing their career and personal life (their Second Shift), handling sexual harassment and prejudice by patients, staff and nurses in addition to lack of appropriate role models. Career and Life Management entails identifying these personal stresses and their relative importance and takes one through the journey of what is and what can and should be the lifestyle of women physicians if they are to counter everyday work pressures.
The issue of marriage/partnership is also replete with study data showing how fewer women physicians are married (and more divorced!) than men physicians. The whys and wherefores of such interesting data have been expertly commented upon. The book also touches on the aspect of dual-career and dual-physician marriages and how they can be a double edged sword, if the choice of the partner is inapt, due to the usual precedence of the male career over the female. To quote a study, "In two career marriages the woman often merely has a job, while the husband has a career."
The next level to marriage is having and raising children and a whole chapter takes one through the decisions, the uncertainty, and the right timing of bearing children. Too many careers can go to dust if this aspect is slighted. The pros and cons of childbearing before, during and after med school and during residency and practice have been highlighted.
What makes each page of this book increasingly engrossing and wholesome is the case vignettes, real life stories of women physicians, and certain handy appendices like resource lists, organization and web site addresses that are only a click away.
Where women are concerned the question of sexual harassment and discrimination cant be far behind, be it by contemporaries, patients or senior staff. It is dumbfounding to note that women are less likely to report sexual harassment because it is an accepted fact from early childhood on to adult life. It is therefore necessary to be acquainted with the legal backing of the social system, and a part of this book does just that.
Progression to other apropos issues like disability, physical and mental health of physicians, racism and ethnicity takes place through the rest of the book. Each page is an event in unearthing lesser known facts on these matters.
As a woman approaches retirement certain personal and professional characteristics take over, and how medicine is influenced by these and vice versa and what older women physicians can recourse to still contribute in their field is the theme that follows.
Women physicians in practice have a proclivity toward women related fields and are more concerned with the preventive aspect of a disease, denoting more time on their patients than male physicians. This in turn translates into more career satisfaction and less lawsuits on women. Thus women physicians are successful on their own terms even though the traditional male indicators of success may show them to be lagging.
An insightful writing that pays tribute to every woman physician, wherever she may be, in whatever condition, and with whatever odds against her, it is an indispensable book not to be missed by any physician.
Dr. Pakhee Aggarwal, 23 is currently working as an Intern in Medicine and Surgery at one of the most prominent hospitals of New Delhi - the Lok Nayak Hospital. She has been the Co-Editor for the Annual College Magazine, "Spandan" in 2002. She is an avid reader of books and a highly motivated book reviewer, in addition to being a budding writer of articles on common health topics for the lay public.
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