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The appeal of lifestyle-friendly fields of medicine

All working parents face the challenge of balancing career and family, but the juggle is especially difficult for those with high-demand jobs. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, some female physicians are choosing more family-friendly fields, like pediatrics, dermatology, and, as reported by The Juggle, colon and rectal surgery. Why the latter? Writer Sue Shellenbarger explains:

In an address to a Washington, D.C., conference Tuesday on workplace flexibility, [Harvard University economics professor Claudia Goldin, PhD] said that high-paying careers that offer more help in balancing work and family are the ones that end up luring the largest numbers of women. Surprisingly, colon and rectal surgery is one of these, because of rapid growth in routine colonoscopies that can be scheduled in advance, giving doctors control over their time. Goldin says 31% of colon and rectal surgeons under 35 years of age were female in 2007, compared with only 3% of those ages 55 to 64, and 12% of those ages 45 to 54, reflecting the fact that younger women are flocking to the field.

Research has shown that women aren't the only ones to consider family and quality of life when making career choices. In a 2005 Academic Medicine study, for example, both male and female medical students expressed a declining interest in specialties with "uncontrollable lifestyles," defined as ones with unpredictable work hours and limited time to pursue family and leisure time. The specialties considered most lifestyle friendly: radiology, physical medicine/rehabilitation, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, urology, dermatology, and otolaryngology.

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