Half way through my night shift, a few female surgeons walked in to the floor. They had just completed a successful surgery, and it turns out that this time, the surgical staff was an all-woman crew, which in itself is fairly normal and would have gone by unnoticed, except that in this case they were all PREGNANT doctors; the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, the surgical staff... all pregnant. All very, very pregnant!
In fact, the only man in the operating room was the patient. We laughed about it for a second, and went on with our work.
Female surgeons, to me, is a normal part of American medicine, which is quickly becoming normal in the rest of the world as well, even if people refuse to acknowledge it.
Sognatrice, from Bleeding Espresso, was kind enough to e-mail me the article "L'allarme dei medici: troppe donne" which states that within 10 years, 8 out of 10 Italian doctors will be female.
Like the previous article, the newspaper's male tone to a serious issue honestly caught me off guard and I had to stop and ask myself if they were kidding. An Italian article from a female perspective? Of course not, that would be too kind! The article actually turned it all around and said that within 10 years, only 2 out of 10 Italian doctors will be male.
It gets better, the article opens with a rhetorical question: "Men, can you imagine going to a female urologist?" (Hmm, shock value. Go ahead. Scare your male readers. Actually, why should they be scared? After all, women allow men to deliver their babies).
A male physician then voices his concern that in the near future the male-only (!) specialties could be in crisis.
Why? because we are entering a new medical reality in which "doctors wear skirts" and "nurses wear pants". Naturally, females will prefer "soft medicine" like pediatrics instead of "hard medicine" specialties like surgery, because the surgical floor cannot accommodate "family hours and pregnancy".
Therefore, "Hippocrates' art is in danger", and to counter-act this, they should set in place standards to ensure quality of care.
I sense a nostalgic tone when they complain that the good ol' ways are in danger of extinction. This sounds as if it was written last century!
Meanwhile, a female physician admits that patients call her "ma'am" instead of "doctor" and react negatively when they realize she will be their doctor.
Is this just a journalistic spin?
Today the Italian medical students are 60% female, and the number is expected to rise to 80% female.
Yes, that's interesting, but if females beat out "competent" male peers in completing medical school, doesn't this prove that they are more competent? would you rather stop them? or are men just refusing to enter the medical field? This is another bigger issue for another day.
Immediately, on top of the question of what set this trend, several other points stood out quite clearly; repercussions of "a pink medical field" in Italian society, the male perspective, the female perspective, the patient perspective, quality of care, a possible change in admission's protocol to even out the ratio, of course, cultural issues and my own experience through all of this. Each side, important in its own right, makes up the over-all complex picture.
This is a learning experience for me, and you can probably see my surprise. This is why I love to live abroad so much, each day shows me a new reality, thus forcing me to face new cultural phenomenons that I never imagined possible, and rethink "normal" from a new perspective.