TV dramas attract girls to medical careers

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The Independent Online

TV hospital dramas are encouraging teenage girls to choose careers in medicine, a leading headmistress claimed today.

Gritty programmes such as ER and Casualty can have a positive effect if they give a "realistic impression" of the jobs they portray, said Jill Berry, the new president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA).

Speaking at the launch of the GSA's new website,, Mrs Berry, who is also head of Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford, said: "So many dramas are based in hospitals, many young girls see that as an exciting, dynamic, never dull, way of life, and as a way to make a difference."

She added: "Lots of girls who go on to become medics make clear choices about why they want to do it.

"Careers trends often seem to reflect the media. It shows the pressure, the responsibility and also the excitement and the adrenalin in these programmes."

The website will offer parents with daughters tips and advice from Britain's leading girls' school headmistresses on issues such as bullying, friendship, education and communication.

To mark its launch, the GSA commissioned a poll of 1,000 parents with daughters attending both private and state schools.

It found that parents believe celebrity magazines, Wags and It girls are having a negative impact on their daughters' lives.

In contrast, family, friends and teachers were seen as good influences.

Mrs Berry said: "It is not surprising that parents feel Wags and It girls are more likely to be a negative influence.

"It is the whole celebrity culture. Wags are famous because of their situation rather than their skills or talent."

The major worry parents had was the quality of their daughter's education, chosen by 28% of respondents, followed by drink and drugs (24%).

More than a third (39 per cent) find it difficult to talk to their teenage daughters about sex and relationships

But the survey also revealed that mothers find it easier to discuss these topics with their daughters than they did with their own mothers when they were young.

The poll found that more than a third of parents (38 per cent) never, or rarely, talk to their daughters about puberty.

A fifth of parents (20 per cent) never talk to their daughter about smoking.

At the other end of the scale, just under a third (32 per cent) said they discuss schoolwork, with this and their child's interests the topics parents thought were most important to talk about.

The survey reveals that while 31 per cent of parents spend between 11 and 30 minutes alone with their daughter on a typical weekday, 3 per cent do not have any alone time.

Mrs Berry said: "Our new website will offer advice on the educating and raising of girls up to school-leaving age. The results of the survey clearly show there is a need for the kind of specialised advice and guidance that will be giving."