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Challenges ID’d for Childbearing During Surgical Residency

Most women receive six weeks or less of maternity leave; most feel leave duration is inadequate

MONDAY, March 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The challenges associated with having children during surgical residency may have considerable impact on the workforce, according to a study published online March 21 in JAMA Surgery.

Erika L. Rangel, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the resident experience of childbearing during training using a self-administered 74-question survey. Surgeons who had one or more pregnancies during an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited U.S. general surgery residency program were included.

The researchers found that 85.6 percent of the 347 female surgeons worked an unmodified schedule until birth; 63.6 percent reported concerns regarding the impact of their work schedule on their health or the health of their unborn child. Overall, 34.9 percent of participants reported residency program maternity leave policies. Most women (78.4 percent) received maternity leave of six weeks or less; 72 percent perceived leave duration as insufficient. For 82.2 percent of respondents, the American Board of Surgery leave policy was cited as a major barrier to the desired length of leave. Although breastfeeding was important to 95.6 percent, 58.1 percent stopped earlier than they wished because of poor access to lactation facilities and challenges associated with expressing milk. Thirty-nine percent of respondents strongly considered leaving surgical residency, and 29.5 percent would discourage female medical students from a surgical career.

“Multiple challenges facing pregnant surgical residents may negatively influence career satisfaction and must be addressed to attract and retain the most talented workforce,” the authors write.

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