Join the Conversation: The Effects of Part-Time Practice

  • Hertzberg, Linda, MD, FASA
| Jun 15, 2011

With the launch of the CSA’s new blog, CSA Online First, this article is housed in the new blog layout, with all of its features and functionality. As such, it seems fitting that I have the chance to write about something involving one of our own officers. Dr. Karen Sibert, Assistant Secretary and Chair of the Communications Committee had an op-ed piece entitled “Don’t Quit This Day Job,” published in the New York Times last Sunday, June 12, 2011. Before I go any further, it is important to note that the opinions expressed in the article are Dr. Sibert’s alone and in no way reflect the mission, policies or opinions of the CSA or its leadership.

In her piece, Dr. Sibert examines the current physician shortage and how women physicians adversely affect the problem, more so than men, by choosing to practice part time in their specialties. She argues that the medical profession is a full-time endeavor, and questions whether individuals should enter medicine if they are, from the outset, planning to work less than full time. Although some of the current changes in modes of medical practice and the shift toward seeking a different type of work/ life balance is clearly generational, Dr. Sibert’s data show that women tend to opt into less than full-time arrangements far more frequently than do men, which has quantifiable consequences in terms of access to care for the public.

Dr. Sibert’s piece rapidly shot up to number two on the NY Times “most emailed” list the day it was published. Readers’ reactions have been strong and heated. The issues were featured again in “Should Women be Doctors?” and “More on Women and Medicine” on “Motherlode,” a NY Times blog by Lisa Belkin. This too evoked powerful and lengthy comment responses from readers. The reactions represent a range of opinions, and provide insightful commentary to support all angles of the discussion.

To be certain, the issues raised by Dr. Sibert have readers—medical professionals and members of the public alike—engaged in conversation and discussing the topic. If you would like to hear more, Dr. Sibert will be interviewed on the issues she raises in her article, on NPR on Thursday, June 16, on the show “On Point.”

With the launch of the new CSA blog interface, members now have the ability to share the blog through the social networking sites, post comments, and engage with the issues here, on CSA Online First. Please use these new features to post your comments on Dr. Sibert’s article. We are very interested in what other anesthesiologists practicing in California have to say about this provocative topic.

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