Residency or a Family?

Author | Nicole Fawcett

According to a recent study, there are striking inconsistencies in parental leave policies at the nation's top medical residency programs. These inconsistencies illustrate the challenge of balancing the training of the next generation of doctors and supporting trainees' personal and family needs.

Of the 15 teaching hospitals in the study, which appeared in JAMA in December, eight had an institutional policy providing paid childbearing or family leave for residents. The average maternity leave was 6.6 weeks. For same-sex couples, adoptive parents, or fathers, paid leave policies averaged 3.9 weeks. The study's authors encourage developing transparent and consistent policies that take into account both the importance of medical training and the need to honor childbearing years.

"Becoming a doctor includes a long period of training and service," says Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at U-M, and the study's co-senior author. "It's challenging for individuals to make family planning decisions when accommodations are ad hoc, expectations are opaque, and policies vary so widely. No one should have to choose a medical career at the cost of being able to have a family." 

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