In Nepal, a developing country in South Asia, the number of female medical students has increased significantly.
The present study was carried out to explore perceived perceptions for this increase, study the perceived impact on teaching-learning activities, medical school infrastructure and possible perceived changes in the doctor-patient relationship.
First, second and third year students were invited to participate in focus group discussions (FGDs). Fifty-four students were willing to participate. Twenty-five were from the first year, 20 from the second and 9 from the third year. The FGDs conducted over a 90 minute period were voice and video recorded. The groups consisted of both males and females from a particular intake. The findings were transcribed verbatim.
Participants felt more female students were taking up medicine in the country because of more colleges opening in the cities and towns making it easier for female students to enrol in the course. Also parents consider medicine as a safe, noble and dignified profession for their daughters. Participants suggested women are more empathetic doctors and the doctor-patient relationship might become more patient-focused. Women doctors can serve as a source of inspiration and the overall impact on Nepal would be positive.
Participating students perceived the increasing number of female medical students may be due to changes in Nepalese society. This study was carried out only among three batches of students in a single medical school. Further studies among different batches of students and among interns in other medical schools are required. Studies among postgraduate students and doctors are also needed.