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Do patients feel more comfortable with male doctors?

13 Comments

Tokyo Medical University’s systematic downgrading of female applicants’ test scores is a national and international scandal, an outrage against women while government policy officially encourages women to “shine.” That’s how most media see it. Shukan Gendai (Sept 8) suggests a different perspective. Acknowledging the outrage, it nonetheless finds that the university has a point. Male doctors do, it says, inspire more confidence in patients. And women doctors do, it claims in support of the university’s self-justification,  quit the profession in large numbers, throwing a badly overstrained health care system into further disarray.

Its evidence as to patients’ feelings is thin. Exhibit A is as far as it gets, and this is an unnamed male patient in his 50s, hospitalized for a hernia. His doctor, male, one day was unable to make his rounds and was replaced on that occasion by a woman. “My first thought,” says the patient, “was, does she know what she’s doing?” She seemed to, and everything went well. Still, “I couldn’t help being slightly uneasy.”

That’s his problem, one might well reply. But Shukan Gendai says the feeling is quite general, among young patients and old, male and female. It insists it is not defending the university, whose underhanded procedures upended the careers of untold numbers of women over 10 or so years. The patient doesn’t defend it either. “When I first heard the news, I thought, ‘Terrible – what if it had been my daughter?’ But as a patient,” he adds, “I can’t help feeling that men make more suitable doctors.”

More substantial than vague unease is the issue of whether women doctors can cope with current working conditions. They are, as Shukan Gendai and its sources describe them, very arduous. The system as society ages is badly overstrained. Hospitals are short-staffed, often desperately. A doctor might be on call 24 hours at a time. Night shifts are grim enough, but when you can’t even go home after your shift ends, it calls for endurance that female surgeon Rumiko Inoue, for one, doubts many women have – especially those raising children.

Speaking of surgeons, very few (5.7 percent) are women – possibly in part because the system is stacked against them, but also because few women choose that particularly demanding branch of the profession. Would more women doctors lead to an aggravated shortage of surgeons?

Then there’s the question of women doctors quitting, either to give birth or for other reasons. As of 2014, 86 percent did within 10 years, according to the Japan Medical Association. Many return to work afterwards, but for the most part only on a part-time basis.

Other matters aside, Shukan Gendai suggests, some professions are naturally suited to one gender or the other. Sushi chefs, for instance, are overwhelmingly male. The medical profession may be another example of that sort of thing. Or, alternatively, both may be the result less of natural capacity than of ingrained social bias. No doubt there is a plethora of arguments on both sides of that fraught issue.

© Japan Today

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13 Comments
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I don't feel comfortable with any Japanese doctor, male or female. It's always the same here; no answers to my questions and insane amounts of medicine.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Male or female I don't care. Just give me sound advice and care.

BTW....Good luck getting any kind of effective pain relief here. They just don't give it.

(In my experience)

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Sushi chefs, for instance, are overwhelmingly male.

Not necessarily because men are better sushi chefs. There is a notion that women shouldn't handle sushi fish because female body temperature is higher than male...

When the cards have been historically stacked against one or other sex because of the societal limits forced upon them, or due to superstition and prejudice wrapped up as facts, it is pointless to point to one or other sex being better than the other at a particular activity.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Maria

Spot on! There is absolutely no "natural" reason this should be the case.

Women leaving their profession and patients feeling less comfortable problems are valid issues, but the solution surely isn't fewer female doctors. There are symptoms of large societal issues in Japan, where gender equality is horribly far behind.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Shukan Gendai suggests, some professions are naturally suited to one gender or the other. Sushi chefs, for instance, are overwhelmingly male. The medical profession may be another example of that sort of thing.

One of the dumbest things I've read in a while. That publication should be relabeled Shukan Jidai Okure

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Have had both male and female doctors over the years, never thought of their sex as being relevant.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As a woman, in almost all cases I would rather have a female doctor as it’s far more likely that they would take my medical concerns seriously, especially in Japan.

I will however say that my GP is the best doctor I’ve ever had in any country, and he’s an elderly Japanese man. When my father passed away he held my hands while I cried and called to check in every once in a while to make sure I was okay.

Definitely an exception to the rule here and there.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

One of the best doctors I ever had was a female German doctor. They just seem to have the right balance of empathy and p/maternalism. She gave it to me straight and helped me deal with my issue.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Amongst women themselves I don't think there is as much outrage about the issue of 'equality' in the workplace as the media and activists would lead us to believe. This is because many women themselves know that they tend to have other priorities besides a career in the workforce.

While Tokyo Medical University’s actions were terrible, one of the reasons given, that of many women's lack of commitment to the job, is of reasonable concern. Any employer wants a return on thier investment of training and resources poured into an individual. The high rate of women leaving the workforce, often for marriage and childbirth, is a tough issue to deal with. This is the unfortunate reality of the situation.

Of course this is terribly unfair to women who do choose to prioritize a career in the workforce.

It's a complicated situation that requires creative solutions.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

It is not the gender, it is the attitude of that doctor.............kind and really care from the heart as doctors do or just money.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

 His doctor, male, one day was unable to make his rounds and was replaced on that occasion by a woman. “My first thought,” says the patient, “was, does she know what she’s doing?” She seemed to, and everything went well. Still, “I couldn’t help being slightly uneasy.”

What a sad/condescending/dumb thing to say. Should we tell this man (& Japan) that there are plenty of female docs (only) medical centres in Western countries? 4-5 female docs, a female practice manager, W nurses etc. Not a single bloke around.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In answer to the title's question: I don't. Don't want to have a male doctor. I never get suspicious of female doctors but in the past I have had my suspicions of several male doctors here and in the U.S. They seemed just a bit too interested and wanted to do some questionable procedures that required me being undressed. Every female doctor I have ever had was professional to a T and got me in and out with no problems. They can treat me anytime.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“Then there’s the question of women doctors quitting, either to give birth or for other reasons. As of 2014, 86 percent did within 10 years, according to the Japan Medical Association. Many return to work afterwards, but for the most part only on a part-time basis”

THIS is the problem. Eighty six percent??

i have no problem with female doctors. The ones I’ve seen in Japan are better!

But 86% is a genuine factor.

Still, you can’t change test scores.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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