Regarding the July 3 editorial, “Boost women’s role in society“: Because of a serious shortage of doctors, Japan faces many problems including the runaround that patients get. It’s time to improve the working environment for female doctors.
The health ministry shows that women accounted for 12.7 percent of all doctors in 1994, and 16.8 percent in 2006. The increase in the number of female doctors is a welcome trend, but the problem is that around 50 percent of them give up their careers within 10 years because of child-rearing.
According to some economists, the interruption of female doctors’ careers is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The reasoning is that Japan loses the potential talents of young men who would have launched a promising career in medicine were it not for women who took their places in medical schools.
I believe, however, that Japan should make the best use of female doctors because medicine has a variety of subspecialties where women can demonstrate their abilities.
When I participated at the annual conference of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine in 2008, the women’s committee insisted that, to achieve better work-life balance, female doctors need 24-hour nurseries and work arrangements like flextime. Female medical students evinced an interest in re-education and re-employment systems. It should be noted that most female doctors intend to keep working while rearing their children.
The government’s efforts to increase the number of medical students cannot be expected to pay off immediately, because the training of interns to become specialists usually takes more than a decade. As the doctor shortage threatens to cost some people their health and/or their lives, enabling female doctors to work flexibly is essential. So, let’s just start where we can.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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