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Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Women in Medicine Part 2
Can women "have it all?" That is, can they be good mothers, wives, daughters, friends, neighbors, and still be good doctors?
Are women as competent as men?
Are women achieving their potential?
What can women do to achieve more?

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Families are great, but they take time.
LOTS of time.

Q: I have read that you are not married yet. Do you think that if you had met the right person that you would be able to adequately juggle both a family and a career in emergency medicine?

Answer by , MD: I addressed this issue a few times on various pages of my web site, but in a nutshell, here's my opinion on that matter. I know it's trendy for people to think they can "have it all" these days. That is tough for anyone, especially a woman. While this may be unfair, the reality is that women traditionally spend far more time caring for children, doing housework, shopping, and cleaning, even if they work. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. I'm still butting my head up against that limitation, and I am single and childless. The constraints of time are far more onerous for someone who is married and has children—again, especially for women.

I know that men should share equally in housework and caring for children, but I've seen it time after time: men sitting around while their wives prepare meals, clean the house, or take care of the kids. I don't think the men I've witnessed failing to chip in are lazy or uncaring; I think our society still inculcates some well-defined roles for men and women, despite the lip service given to equality. However, some men do perform housework, and contrary to what Melanny said about men not doing housework 25 years ago, did it back then, too. I began cleaning, cooking, sewing, and whatnot when I was in elementary school not because my Mom ordered me to help out, but simply because I wanted to. Surely other men (and boys) have done the same.

The $64,000 question is: Can you do it all? Can you be a topnotch ER doc, a wonderful mother, a good wife, and have some time for yourself? The answer is no, unless you work part-time, or your husband is a househusband.

A study of Norwegian women found that childbearing impeded education more than education impeded childbearing. Conclusion? Norwegian women know they can choose how to spend their time, but they cannot squeeze more than 24 hours into a day.

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