Review: Yumiko Kadota – Emotional Female

Emotional Female
Yumiko Kadota

“Yumiko Kadota was every Asian parent’s dream: model student, top of her class in medical school and on track to becoming a surgeon… She was regularly left to carry out complex procedures without senior surgeons’ oversight; she was called all sorts of things, from ‘emotional’ to ‘too confident’; and she was expected to work a relentless on-call roster – sometimes seventy hours a week or more – to prove herself.”

Yumiko has claimed her title of Emotional Female and taken it to the next level. As a patient, I feel most listened to when the doctor seems to actually be 1) listening and 2) can empathize. Yumiko takes us on a frankly uncomfortable journey into the Australian medical system where things are rancid and wrong to the core.

Yumiko talks about how staff would get her and another woman of Asian descent confused. Thankfully I see this practice actively changing in the university system, where students are encouraged to learn how to pronounce a person’s given name, not just call them by a nickname.

I love that Yumiko has tried to make the most of her burnout time (if that is such a thing) and found passion in a related area of teaching anatomy. She’s also returned to some surgery, and I hope that her way forward is not as painful as the past. Funnily enough I recently worked with someone who went the other way – first an anatomy tutor and now she’s in post-graduate Medicine. I can only hope that the environment has improved since Yumiko’s time as a student, but I fear that the workplaces are much the same.

I requested this book because I work with both post-graduate and first year undergraduate Medicine students. I feel as if I should know more about what it takes to ‘become a doctor’ because there is so much more ahead of them after they have finished university. I want to be able to give good advice, or at least informed advice, to students about what they hope to achieve out of medicine – and whether they have healthy coping mechanisms.

I have previously read Going Under which is a fictional account of another young woman’s training in Medicine. The original blog of that author’s post was in 2017. It doesn’t give me much home that the profession is changing its ways in regards to its attitude towards mental health and chronic overwork here in 2021. I hope that further people feel able to speak up, and perhaps change will eventually happen.

Buy this book and be part of the change we need in the Medical system. Encourage others to read it. You won’t regret it.

Penguin Random House | 2 March 2021 | AU$34.99 | paperback

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