Winner - MWF Junior Doctor Prize Artistic Entry

 

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By Dr Moe Latt, Winner of the Junior Doctor Prize

 Why women doctors are the solution to the NHS workforce crisis

Oil painting on canvas board.

The colour purple invokes an inherent sense of calmness, serenity and intuition. Its traditional association with femininity and stability is why it features in the backdrop of this painting. Although the physical eyes are closed, the mind’s eye is wide open, perceiving abstractions and forming accurate judgements from the unsaid and unexpressed. It is precisely this deep, humane understanding and insight that sets female doctors apart, and can lead, uplift and inspire others to be a valuable part of the NHS.

Gender psychology identifies women to generally possess higher levels of agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness, compared with men. Such traits correspond with increased kindness, empathy, altruism, dutifulness, discipline and orderliness. Harnessing this emotional intelligence and ability to “read between the lines” in the workplace, both towards patients and other members of staff, can increase morale and job fulfilment for all parties involved. In fact, a well-known longitudinal Harvard study even concluded that good interpersonal relationships were the single most important factor in leading happier (and healthier) lives!

Looking at reasons for why healthcare professionals elect to leave the NHS, it is clear that subjective factors such as low job satisfaction, feelings of being undervalued and low morale feature heavily. Although some individuals cited reasons for leaving such as wanting to explore a different country, it is obvious that most feel they are driven out due to burn-out or unhappiness. As the average person spends nearly 85,000 hours at work across their lifetime, it is imperative that people derive gratification from their working lives - particularly when pursuing emotionally laborious careers, such as medicine. This is when women doctors come in - by treating colleagues with kindness and compassion, taking the time not merely to look but to understand in interpersonal situations, it helps others to feel recognised for their efforts, appreciated and valued. One of the most unique and enchanting aspects of being a part of the NHS is experiencing human contact in its most raw and honest form, and it precisely this sentiment that can be cultivated by women doctors, giving people a reason to stay.

References:

Clarke, T. and Costall, A. (2008) ‘The emotional connotations of color: A qualitative investigation’, Color Research and Application, 33(5), pp. 406-410.

Elliott, A. and Maier, M. (2014) ‘Color psychology: Effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans’, Annual Review of Psychology, 65, pp. 95-120.

Firth-Cozens, J. (2008) ‘Effects of gender on performance in medicine’, BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 336(7647), pp. 731–732.

Fuchsman, K. (2023) ‘Harvard Grant study of adult development’, Journal of Psychohistory, 51(1), pp.27-44.

Lambert, T., Smith, F. and Goldacre, M. (2018) ‘Why doctors consider leaving UK medicine: Qualitative analysis of comments from questionnaire surveys three years after graduation’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 111(1), pp. 18–30.

Ocean, N. and Meyer, C. (2023) ‘Satisfaction and attrition in the UK healthcare sector over the past decade’, PloS One, 18(4), e0284516.

Weisberg, Y., Deyoung, C. and Hirsh, J. (2011) ‘Gender differences in personality across the ten aspects of the big five’, Frontiers in Psychology, 2(178).

 

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