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The ‘Mommy Track’ Debate In Medicine

One female doctor argues that not working full-time is a waste of a medical education and a disservice to both patients and the profession. Others argue that trying to have it all is impossible. We explore what we should expect from our doctors — both as professionals and as parents.

Medicine is a demanding field. Here medical students and paramedics rush a man with gunshot wounds to the operating room. (AP)

Medicine is a demanding field. Here medical students and paramedics rush a man with gunshot wounds to the operating room. (AP)

Karen Sibert is a doctor and mother in Los Angeles. Four kids. A practice in anesthesiology. A big career.

And this week she threw a big rock in the pond of women in medicine. In a high-profile essay that has rocketed through the online world, Dr. Sibert said too many woman doctors are taking too much time off to take care of their own kids.

Working part-time. Leaving the field. She portrayed these personal decisions as a betrayal of a higher calling, and a problem for the country.

The pushback has been fierce.

This hour On Point: Dr. Karen Sibert, and the debate over work, family and medicine.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Karen Sibert, an anesthesiologist practicing in Los Angeles. She recently wrote the New York Times op-ed Don’t Quit This Day Job.

Kathleen Fairfield , the associate chief of medicine at Maine Medical Center and the volunteer medical director at the Free Clinic of Portland. She’s a primary care physician and an epidemiologist and also researches shared decision making in primary care.

Maureen Connelly, the dean for faculty affairs and assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research has focused on women in academic medicine, and she is the principle investigator of the faculty survey at Harvard’s medical and dental schools. She practiced internal medicine before joining the dean’s office.

And later in the hour, we’ll hear some of the commencement address by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg this year at Barnard College.

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