I Am Woman, Watch Me Heal

Even in the age of equality, women don't always receive the respect, acclaim and job opportunities they deserve. That's why it's important to emphasize the success of women in the medical profession.

History is filled with the legendary success stories of female nurses like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, as well as of countless wartime nurses who literally risked life and limb to serve and save their patients. Women are traditionally seen as healers and nurturers; and the medical profession has never seen a shortage of female nurses, midwives, medical assistants, medical secretaries, and midwives. From the time of the female healers who toiled in ancient civilizations, to the before-mentioned wartime nurses, to any number of modern medical professionals, it's evident that women can succeed in the medical profession.

Why is it, then that the American Medical Association reports that—as of 2006—only 27.8 percent of doctors are female? Granted, this number has grown leaps and bounds since the early 1970s, when it lingered in the single digits. Still, the fact remains that women still face an uphill battle toward the achievement of equality in the medical field; especially in high-paying job categories like surgeon.

The reasons for this are many and varied. Female professionals of all varieties are regarded with a mixture of respect and skepticism; while some whole-heartedly embrace and celebrate the concept of a female senator, company head, or national president, others harbor sexist, outdated notions about these concepts. A woman who pursues a career as a physician may still be chided or laughed at, seeing her abilities doubted.

In addition, as women are seen as the nurturers of our society, they're often expected to complete the bulk of the housework and childcare duties in the majority of homes. A woman facing a full schedule of domestic duties has little time for medical school, internships, or hospital rotations.

Role models are another problem. While many films and television shows—ranging from Marcus Welby to Trapper John to House—focus on male physicians, very few feature female doctors as main characters.

So should prospective female physicians give up their dreams and take up more traditional careers? No, women have come too far to give up now. As mentioned earlier, the number of female physicians has tripled over the past three decades. A number of medical associations are now comprised of and devoted to the issues of females in the medical profession. And the ultimate medical association, the AMA, reports that 45 percent of current medical students are women.

When it comes to choosing a career, both women and men should follow their hearts—as well as their talents and interests. A bright, nurturing woman could make a good homemaker, a quality nurse, or a brilliant surgeon; the choice is up to her.

If you're a woman who has a keen interest in the medical profession, don't let anything or anyone stand in the way of your success; check out a career in the healthcare field today!

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