Personal Views

The system must change

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 26 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1286
  1. Helen Gibson, a housewife in Ontario

    Forty years ago women fought for their careers against expectations that kept them at home raising children. Now expectations are that we should successfully combine careers and family, with still enough time for an active social life. Once, I fully supported this belief. As a junior doctor, I could not understand how talented doctors with good prospects could give up their dream careers for more family time. The idealistic picture changed with my marriage and the birth of my first son, but still I could not imagine sacrificing my career to stay at home raising children.

    Then my husband was given the opportunity to work in Canada for three years. We went despite the fact that Canada has tough licensing laws for foreign trained doctors and my chances of working were slim. We planned to have another child and I viewed it as extended maternity leave. We have been in Canada for two years and I can now look with hindsight on my time as a doctor in Britain.

    Throughout medical school and from the time that doctors qualify there is a pressure on them to fit into the system if …

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