Image source: penguin.com.au
Yumiko's book about her experience as a junior doctor in the Australian Hospital System was published earlier this year and we had the pleasure of asking her a few questions about it.
Click here to see our reviews.
Yumiko Kadota was every Asian parent's dream- model student, top of her class in medical school and on track to becoming a surgeon. A self-confessed workaholic, she regularly put 'knife before life', knowing it was all going to be worth it because it would lead to her longed-for career.
But if the punishing hours in surgery weren't hard enough, she also faced challenges as a young female surgeon navigating a male-dominated specialty. 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.
Eventually it was too much and Yumiko quit. Emotional Female is her account of what it was like to train in the Australian public hospital system, and what made her walk away.
Yumiko Kadota is a voice for her generation when it comes to burnout and finding the resilience to rebuild after suffering a physical, emotional and existential breakdown. This is a brave, honest and unflinching work from a major new talent.
Your honesty in recalling the harsh realities of the Australia Public Health System will certainly educate those who are outside it (including us). What are you hoping to evoke in your readers, who may not be in the same field, but having the same experiences?
I hope I can empower readers who might be in a toxic situation to leave and put themselves first. Especially as women, we are discouraged from being confident. I want more people to have more pride in themselves and their skills, and not allow power structures to dilute that confidence. For anyone experiencing sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination, I hope the book will encourage them to stand up for themselves.
You delve into your relationship with your sisters, how important they have been in your growth, both personally and professionally and the support system they are for you. What advice would you give someone who is struggling, and who they should look to for support?
I am very close with my sisters. Even though they’re currently working in Japan, I talk to them every day - having that constant communication with people who have my back has been an incredible buoy. For those who are struggling, the first thing I would say is that there is no shame at all in asking for help. I would start with the people closest to you that you trust. I would also encourage you to talk to your GP. There are wonderful GPs who are there not only for your physical health, but also your mental health and wellbeing, and they are a wealth of information and resources.
If 'Emotional Female' had a soundtrack, what would it be?
Brave by Sara Bareilles - I particularly love these lyrics: “.. don’t run, stop holding your tongue / Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live / Maybe one of these days you can let the light in / Show me how big your brave is.” I think that we’re at a time of powerful truth-telling and sharing of lived experience and I want to encourage more people to speak up for what’s important.
Emotional Female is separated into 'parts' or moments (Student, Intern, Registrar, Teacher) of your journey through the system. How important was it to you for us as readers to be able to follow this, and learn how with each progression, came more challenges for you? Why did you choose to format it this way?
The book was deliberately chronological to reflect the rigid pathway to make it through each stage of a medical career. It made sense for me to write it in that way, and share more of the injustices that I observed over time, which really escalated right at the end - having that build up was really important.
For each review we post, we give 3 words we personally would use to describe that book. We'd love to know what 3 words would you use to describe Emotional Female?
Honesty. Confidence. Feminism.
Thank you to Penguin Books Australia and Yumiko for sending us a review copy of this book.
You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.