History of women in healthcare

Historically, medicine has been a profession dominated by males, but over the course of the last century, the number of women pursuing a career in medicine has increased significantly and in the next ten years, women doctors are set to outnumber male doctors for the first time in history.

Until the late 1800’s, all doctors working in the UK were male; however, after campaigns and high profile cases such as that of Dr Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson, an act was finally passed to allow women to train as doctors in 1876. Initially, women doctors were ridiculed by their male counterparts and many found it very difficult to cope with the additional challenge of coping with male colleagues; however, over the course of history, medicine has become a profession for both sexes and there are now more female medical students and doctors than ever before. Gender issues have largely been ironed out and thousands of women are thriving in their role as doctors, surgeons and consultants.

All medical students complete university degree courses and then go on to complete a set period of clinical training and professional development. After this period of training, they may go on to specialise in areas of medicine; there are many different specialities including obstetrics and gynaecology, cardiology, urology, general practice, paediatrics and oncology, to name just a few. It can be difficult to choose a speciality, especially if you find that you enjoy a large range of different specialities and have a deep-seated interest in different areas; most doctors take a combination of factors into account when they choose a speciality.

Many people go for the area they most enjoyed working in during their training, but they may also take practical considerations into account, such as working hours, emotional stress and opportunities for career development. Women doctors who want to have children in the future may gravitate towards a speciality that offers flexible working hours, such as general practice, but this is not always the case.

Women’s health is a very varied field; there are several illnesses, conditions and issues which are specific to women and almost every woman requires the treatment or advice of a specialist in women’s health issues and disorders at some point in their lives.

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