Women Make Better Doctors Than Men

A gender divide in a field that was once overwhelmingly male

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At least that’s what a recent study of diabetic patients found. But the boys shouldn’t pack up their doctor kits yet.

In a new report released by the University of Montreal, investigators found that women outperformed men on certain metrics of patient care.

Valérie Martel, a masters candidate in the school’s department of health administration, Régis Blais, a professor in the department, and Roxanne Borges Da Silva, a professor of nursing, recruited 870 Quebec-based physicians—half men, half women—treating people with diabetes. A chronic condition, diabetes can be controlled only via constant vigilance to maintain proper blood sugar levels; that requires periodic visits to the doctor, and good compliance with taking a range of medications. To compare if a doctor’s gender affected patient behavior, the researchers evaluated  physicians on three parts of standard diabetes treatment: prescribing periodic eye exams, scheduling frequent physical check-ups and keeping their patients on some mix of three different medications, such as statins to control cholesterol. On all of the metrics, the female doctors beat the males.

“Women had significantly higher scores in terms of compliance with practice guidelines,” said Martel in a statement that accompanied the release of the study. “They were more likely than men to prescribe recommended medications and to plan required examinations.”

Why? It’s possible the female doctors were simply more willing to devote more time to their patients  The men tended to cycle their patients though quickly—as evidenced by fact that the male doctors performed, on average, 1,000 more basic treatment procedures per year than the women. But that seeming efficiency may be self-defeating: the investigators worry that the quicker the turnover in any one doctor’s office, the likelier a patient is to return to have questions answered or treatment details explained that weren’t addressed in the initial appointment.

The Montreal investigators plan to broaden their findings, looking at three other manageable conditions next: hypertension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to see if the gender-based difference applies to other conditions as well. But even if they find the same gender gap there, they believe there’s hope for improvement. The younger the doctors in their study were, the narrower the divide between the sexes, suggesting that hurry-up male doctors are aging out of the system, being replaced by a newer, gentler generation.

136 comments
jryanmurrin
jryanmurrin

Even though the study data is pretty weak, I wouldn't doubt for a second that women are more likely to comply with practice guidelines. Women are less prone to risk-taking. Women go with the flow. Women accept consensus over their own individual judgement because they have a greater need for social acceptance. Of course women would apply the standard guidelines to every case without making any distinctions.


None of which supports the headline that women are "better" doctors than men. Quite the opposite: Female doctors can competently emulate the innovative methods of their male predecessors, but they cannot claim even 1% of the medical breakthroughs in history.


galaxykid2000
galaxykid2000

Doctors are Drug pushing murder's, throw most of them in jail for manslaughter all ready!

mdbryan
mdbryan

Ridiculous headline.  Saying one sex is better than the other as "doctors" based on only internal medicine standards for the care of one disease is TITANICALLY STUPID AND TYPICAL FOR A BALD FACED ATTEMPT TO SENSATIONALIZE otherwise not very powerful data, IN ORDER TO SELL MAGAZINES.  Your scientific objectivity, and the selection of the title of your unscholarly  interpretation is atrocious.  Shame is dead in "journalism".  Actually journalism is dead and has been replaced by spinmeisters trying to turn a buck.

ChristopherBourne
ChristopherBourne

As a 50 year old male, I can tell you why I have a female doctor.... she has smaller fingers!!!

DAT33
DAT33

1. The gender based conclusion for the sampled Quebec physician population of "more than 870" is not supported by the numbers.

See original University of Montreal (Université de Montréal) press release with metrics: http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/udem-news/news/20131018-female-doctors-are-better-than-male-doctors.-but-males-are-more-productive.html

Rationale:

Using the "required their patients to undergo an eye examination" metric as representative of the Physician gender delta.

Assuming that the minimum half physician population is 436 (“more than 870” population must be divisible by two), this so a total physician population of 872.

Accepting the statements:

“Among middle-aged doctors, three out of four women, for example, required their patients to undergo an eye examination vs. 70% of their male counterparts;”

And

"The younger the doctors in their study were, the narrower the divide between the sexes, suggesting that hurry-up male doctors are aging out of the system, being replaced by a newer, gentler generation."

Then

327.0 = 436 x .75 = Female Physicians who met the stated eye exam requirement standard.

305.0 (rounded from 305.2) = 436 x .70 = Male Physicians who met the stated eye exam requirement standard.

Then

327.0 Female Physicians + 305 Male Physicians = total Physicians who met the stated eye exam requirement standard = 632 compliant Physicians out of a total sampled Physician population of 872 = 72.48% of approximately sampled Quebec practitioners who met the stated eye exam requirement standard.

Then

Of the population that met the stated eye exam requirement standard

327/632 = 51.74% (Female) and 305/632 = 48.26% (Male)

So

The rounded percentages of 52% vs. 48% amount to a coin toss that only gets better with youth.

2.The real story, and not the point of the study’s hypothesis, is that only 72.53% (632/872) were performing their duties recommending/requiring/ordering an eye exam, etc., in compliance with Canadian Diabetes Association practice guidelines.

3.Recommendation:Repackage story as “Quebec physicians demonstrate spotty observance of Canadian Diabetes Association recommendations. “

5. No real point in speaking to “hurry-up male doctors” aka “productivity”… yet.I would like to see another institution (like an average High School) run the numbers .

6. Don’t Panic.

John5246
John5246

Women are better doctors based on metrics...ok but which ones? How about correct diagnosis for a metric? 

Sure for the metric of beauty, awesome breasts, and accessorizing with a stethoscope women win! But the top doctors are male and even most women, if their life was on the line, would not go to some female doctor because she listens...

DelmarKnudson
DelmarKnudson

My mother was exceptionally bright, and a very decent painter, but submerged her desires and abilities to be a good farmers wife.  All 3 sons paid their own way to college degrees and beyond.  I never had any prejudice against women in most respects, certainly not professionally.  I think all people everywhere have some prejudices, even those who claim to have none.  But, as I was on the staff at a University, and approved residents for our program for a number of years, I did notice one thing.  I was always impressed with facts.  Of  the last 10 women MD's and resident doctors that I interacted with, half of them gave up their careers before they had really begun.  One married the year after she got her MD and quit practice, one quit practice during mid residency and got married, one just finished residency, got married and quit practice, and so on.  That is simply fact.  How much did you as a taxpayer contribute to their expensive education?

Loe
Loe

The bottom line is women have an inferiority complex. Which is understandable because this world has been dominated by men. Women can be just as good as men in many areas, but there are some where they can never compete on an  even field with men (like sports, for example). Also there are some areas that are far more important that men are not ever going to be as good as women (like nurturing a child).

Women should stop feeling inferior to men, it only exacerbates their inferiority. 

JohnKing2
JohnKing2

Don't we have enough of this women are better BS.  When are we going to get on with recognizing competence as a non gender issue, and stop promoting chauvinistic journalism.  This is just crap and accomplishes nothing except more drama.  I'm getting tired of Time magazines support of this stuff.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

It sounds like the male doctors are more focused on money than they are on providing quality patient care.  That's why they're cycling through more patients without spending enough time with each one to do a good job.  This practice sounds like a product of men's reduced empathy and their greater propensity to take risks in order to make more money.  The male doctors are more willing to risk their patients' lives for the chance to cycle more through in order to make more money.

Loe
Loe

It depends on the doctor. Of the last 6 doctors I've had 4 were women and 2 were men. 1 of the women, a Nigerian lady, was the best. The Mexican lady was below average. The Oriental lady was awful and the African-American was atrocious. Of the men, they were both white American, the younger one was good. The old one was a disaster. 

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@John5246 

Did you even read the article?  Do you have any evidence that the best doctors are men?  You really think it's not a problem if a male doctor does not listen to a patient describe his or her symptoms?

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@DelmarKnudson 

Sounds like we as a society should stop telling women that their place is in the home.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@Loe 

The all important field of sports that has so much impact on everyones' lives.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@JohnKing2 

OTOH, I find it concerning that men as a gender never get called out even when it's deserved.  For example, 90% of murderers are male.  We never call out men for their crime problem though.  If we did, we would realize that the cause is the way our society socializes males and then we could begin to address it.  Sometimes you have to call out a gender for bad behavior because the behavior is linked to gender socialization. 

BTW, just to point out the hypocrisy of not calling out men, inner city black men get called out all the time for their violent crime rate.  Yet, men as a whole never get called out.  Why?

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy  You are a ridiculous sexist bigot, and this comment is simply offensive to the male and female doctors who take care of their patients with an absurd amount of empathy.


DelmarKnudson
DelmarKnudson

@ohlawdy While I taught at Hopkins, Duke, George Washington (in D.C.), University of Colorado faculty at Denver General, etc. I worked with a great many good doctors, and was actually kind of surprised to only have met up with a twenty to thirty doctors of questionable ethics, and questionable competence.  And I had interacted with thousands of doctors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Morocco, South Dakota, Colorado, and California.  I wish I could claim the same for the lawyers and preachers of the gospel, and businessmen I have met.  I did not see much difference in the medical practice of the two or more genders.

jimmoir
jimmoir

@ohlawdy As a male doctor, I find your comments very ignorant and offensive.

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy @John5246 Sure -- that virtually every scientific advancement in medicine was done and created overwhelmingly by men, even now.  In other words, the guys who invented the slit lamp and indirect ophthalmoscope and the laser treatment modality and figured out how to treat the diabetes in that "Eye exam" were mostly men, the guys who invented the insulin, the medications, the newer needles, and the newer medications for treatment were mostly men, the person who invented the sphygmomanometer was a man.

On the flip side, women seeing lesser patients does increase time spent with patient, which could be the confounding factor in this particular analysis.  Any doctor knows (I'm one of them) that we'd all LOVE to spend more time with patients -- but there are simply more patients than can be accomodated.  That burden, I'm guessing, is shifted to male doctors, as women are far more likely to work part time or take time off.

In other words, while we all enjoy a bit of self-serving misandric feminism, it's likely that neither gender is "better" than the other when they're held to the same constraints.

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy @DelmarKnudson Or maybe we should mandate that everyone has to work full time, instead of the overwhelming amount of part-timers being women?

John5246
John5246

@ohlawdy @DelmarKnudson 

That was a cute pro equality comment, except men are at a disadvantage when raising children (they can't breast feed), in other words men and women are not equal women have the advantage. But you never hear men complain "oh why can't I breast feed" we play our roles and don't complain or feel like we're "lesser people" because of it. And it's about time that women just accept it too and stop complaining about the female role. 

Loe
Loe

@ohlawdy @Loe Well, then, if it's so superfluous you should not be bothered by it. 

tealover
tealover

@ohlawdy @Loe I actually agree with you about that, ohlawdy.  See, I'm not such a bad guy after all.

Mark_Neilg
Mark_Neilg

@ohlawdy @JohnKing2 Are you kidding me? There hasn't been a mass shooting in the last decade committed by a man, where masculinity hasn't been blamed. Just because your gynocentric confirmation bias doesn't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Or are you going to acknowledge some positive attributes that are held by men, to go along with your hostile assertions? Show a little balance, perhaps?

I have to wonder though, why is it people like you and the author of this article seem perfectly content to attribute positive attributes to women, and negative attributes to men, based on their sex... but heaven forbid someone suggest a man might be better at something positive (such as the former dean of Harvard who got attacked and calls for his resignation when he suggested gender differences MAY (not even an absolute, only the possibility) play a role in the different attendance rates in STEM fields.)

It's really troubling this, no less than equal for women, no more than equal for men garbage we're constantly fed. THAT isn't equality, it's supremacy.

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy @JohnKing2 Men as a gender are ALWAYS called out.  It's almost like you willfully ignore any evidence to the contrary of your ridiculous assertion.  Right now THIS article is calling men out, there are a myriad of articles on CNN arguing that it's MEN who are responsible for the Government Shutdown, there are tons of campaigns that call out MEN as being responsible for rape, etc. etc.  Your bigoted feminist veil is showing, madame sexism.


As an aside, the vast majority of VICTIMS of murder are male, the vast majority of victims of violence are male, the vast majority of victims of cancer deaths, of heart attack deaths, of occupational deaths, of death in general are male, yet the vast majority of federal funding, awareness, and legislation based on gender focuses on women.  Why are women as a gender never called out for the absurd largesse they receive from society whether the data shows they deserve it or not?

DelmarKnudson
DelmarKnudson

@ohlawdy @JohnKing2 Should we also emphasize the ethnicity and the religion and the culture of every criminal when we report on him/her in the news?

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@jimmoir @ohlawdy 

As a lawyer, I find the fact that you've substituted an ad hominem for an actual argument to be very unpersuasive.

Loe
Loe

@ohlawdy @tealover Or, maybe, women can get over their inferiority complex

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@John5246 @ohlawdy @DelmarKnudson 

Men don't complain about "their role" because "their role" is defined to include the jobs with the highest compensation.  Historically, men have used their greater physical strength to threaten violence in order to get what they want.  It's not right and must be challenged.  Unless of course you think men who are stronger than you have a right to define your role and make you give up a position as a doctor in order to be a maid, for example.

Loe
Loe

@ohlawdy @Loe Or... perhaps you're frustrated that I'm TOO good? Truth hurts, doesn't it?

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy @DelmarKnudson The study didn't address what he was talking about.  Brush up your comprehension skills and try again in a few years.

A1125
A1125

@ohlawdy @jimmoir You mean the fact that he, as a male doctor, thought that an offensive comment directed at male doctors was relevant to him was "unpersuasive" and constituted an "ad hominem" substitution?  Are you kidding me?  Did you actually go to law school?  

Mark_Neilg
Mark_Neilg

@ohlawdy @tealover "Newsflash, there are already articles saying that men are better than women at certain things"

Then you should have no issues finding a few to prove your point... keep in mind, we're talking about the article saying men are better at XXX, not an article admonishing someone who said men are better at XXX.

tealover
tealover

@DelmarKnudson @ohlawdy @tealover Too many people make unnecessary comments on the internet.  I'm certainly not innocent when it comes to that, and so I'll apologize for my tone.  I extend my hand to ohlawdy and ask for forgiveness.
  I'll delete my comments if you wish.

DelmarKnudson
DelmarKnudson

@ohlawdy @tealover I am often surprised at the arrogant sneering condescension of many who are on the political left and the political right; and clearly this should be extended to many who comment on the internet.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@tealover @ohlawdy 

Newsflash, there are already articles saying that men are better than women at certain things.  It wasn't long ago that I was reading an article about why men are better jumpers.  The article was written to be as unflattering to women as possible.  They didn't mention the fact that men have shorter legs than women for their height, which puts men at an advantage for jumping, but a disadvantage for running.  In any case, I didn't get all dramatic about it, like you are about this article, and threaten the author with mass suicide.

tealover
tealover

@ohlawdy @tealover You thought I was serious when I said men should collectively kill themselves...??  Gee, I thought the sarcasm was rather obvious.  But to address the problem, I think it's time for the news to start pointing out how men are better at some things than women are.  Guys are getting beat over the head left and right.  Consider what another poster said earlier....what if this article read "Men are better doctors than women", and tell me how that sounds to you?  Now, imagine a whole slew of articles which point out how men are incompetent at everything, but at which women excel.  Why is it acceptable to constantly bash men, but unacceptable to bash women?

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@tealover @ohlawdy 

Not to be mean, but you seem a little mentally unstable.  First you're saying all men should kill themselves because male doctors provide worse patient care.  Now you want to turn everything into a fight instead of addressing the problem.  You should see a therapist.

Mark_Neilg
Mark_Neilg

@ohlawdy @Loe "You can't legitimately dismiss the results of a study as an asinine generalization."

That's debatable, but irrelevant... as what we're discusing are the conclusions this article writer made based on their interpretation of the study, combined with their own sexist biases. After all, does the fact male doctors see more patients automatically mean they give less care to their patients? Or is it possible they actually work longer hours. My female doctor, after all, works from 10-5, with an hour lunch and every Friday off during the summer, plus every second Tuesday she works at the walk in clinic. Doesn't leave a lot of time for patients. The male doctor I had before that worked 8:30-6, and worked half days at a hospital emergency room every Wednesday afternoon/evening. The article doesn't leave room for the possibility the discrepancy in patients seen has to do with time worked... it doesn't bother to look at that detail. It's conclusions are little more than sexist assumptions

Loe
Loe

@ohlawdy @Loe I wasn't saying any behavior was/wasn't legitimate. I was answering a very foolish question and making a suggestion to the person who asked it (you)

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@Loe @ohlawdy 

Just because you say your behavior is legitimate doesn't mean it is.

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@Loe @ohlawdy 

You can't legitimately dismiss the results of a study as an asinine generalization.  An asinine generalization would be observing one incompetent male doctor and then saying that all male doctors are incompetent as a result.

Loe
Loe

@ohlawdy @Loe No, but people should stop making asinine generalizations about which gender is superior in the medical field. 

ohlawdy
ohlawdy

@Loe 

So people are just supposed to accept lower quality care from male doctors because you like to throw out ad hominems?