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Burnout in medicine reflects unsafe working hours, not gendered inability

28 Feb 2019

Media release



The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is proud to announce that Dr Yumiko Kadota will be a plenary speaker at the AMSA National Leadership Development Seminar in May.

Dr Kadota bravely spoke out about her experiences as a trainee surgeon, which led her to resign due to burnout.

Her story sparked an investigation into the hospital involved and coincided with new research highlighting gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying in Australian hospitals.

Some commentators have linked her burnout to her gender, claiming that the “feminisation of the medical workforce” is to blame for the increased rates of burnout reported by doctors.

 “AMSA believes in equity for all genders. Doctors should be considered on their merit and not their gender,” AMSA President, Ms Jessica Yang, said.

“From all reports, Dr Kadota went above and beyond what is expected of any doctor for longer than most of us could probably withstand, to the detriment of everything else in her life, including her health.

“All future doctors can learn from Dr Kadota’s story, which is why we have invited her to speak at our most prestigious conference.

“Safe working hours in medicine has been an issue for years and is not related to gender.

“The Australian Medical Association first launched its campaign in the mid-1990s to improve working conditions for doctors and make the profession safer for its patients.

“Currently, one in two doctors are working unsafe hours that place them at risk of developing fatigue, with this risk being highest for junior doctors.

“Dr Kadota’s resignation highlights the discrimination women can still experience in medicine. If a male doctor resigned for unsafe working hours, his gender would not have been brought up.”

While some studies have shown that female doctors are more likely to experience burnout than men, this is due to society’s expectations, rather than an innate female inability to cope with the pressures of medicine, Ms Yang said.

Many patients seek longer and more empathetic consultations, which often leads them to female physicians, who are not compensated for the associated time cost. Meanwhile, because of the structure of Australian society, the responsibility of primary caregiver to children still mostly falls on women.

“Women are underrepresented in senior medical roles, despite the steady rise in the number of female doctors, with 62.8 per cent of medical graduates in 2015 being female,” Ms Yang stated.

“Why, in 2019, is gender, and not ability, dictating someone’s capacity to work and their monetary value?”

AMSA, the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, applauds the medical students and doctors who have rallied around Dr Kadota and been brave enough to share their own stories of discrimination in the medical workforce.



Media contact

AMSA 2019 Public Relations Officer

Madeleine Goss



Published: 28 Feb 2019