Poor diagnosis for medic 'crisis' 1

April 19, 2002

So, it's too many women that is the problem for medicine ("What's up doc? A lack of men", THES , April 12). Twenty years ago girls were not going into medicine because they did not have science A levels. Now they do and they are. That is a success story.

What about boys? It is not just that they are doing less well but that a particular group are choosing not to apply for medicine. As your leader points out: maybe this is saying something to the profession. Using aptitude tests for entry to get more boys in is missing the point. White (middle-class?) boys are turned off medicine through press coverage of long hours, high-profile disciplinary cases and by doctors themselves advising against the career.

To read Tony Mathie, the Royal College of Physicians' lead on workforce planning, saying that the working pattern of a trained doctor is incompatible with family life is frightening. What other profession would maintain this stance in 2002? We need to enable more flexible working patterns for doctors.

Let's hope that widening participation in medicine does not mean a return to admitting those who can catch a rugby ball.

Caroline Gipps
Deputy vice-chancellor
Kingston University

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