Researching Maternity Leave Policies

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    😀 Hi. I am an undergraduate research assistant for the Sociology Department of the University of Pennsylvania. I am helping a professor and a graduate student in writing a book on women in the medical field. Right now I am researching for chapters in the book that will be focused on the maternity leave policies in specifically medical schools, residency programs, and fellowships. We are also interested in the origins of these maternity leave policies and how they were created/affected by the increase of women into the medical field.

    😉 I would so greatly appreciate if anyone would like to just share any of their personal maternity leave experience(s) and how it’s affected one’s own mom-in-medicine experience. Any direction or information on where I may find relevant information on our research topic would also be greatly appreciated.

    :p Thank you for all your help and interest. It is fascinating and a wonderful experience studying women in medicine .





    i live in canada. here we get one year’s maternity leave. as a resident, we qualify for a full maternity leave, although we obviously have to make up the time in our training. depending on our program, we may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months as a “personal leave” without having to make it up.

    obviously, it makes it quite attractive to have one’s children during residency. i have had two babies (and two maternity leaves) during my training. it has prolonged my overall training time but was well worth it. i may even try to get pregnant one more time … we’ll see … before i finish.


    Well, OK Irene.

    I’m a PGY-5 (2nd year of 2) child and adolescent psychiatry resident. I have two children. The first I had when I was a fourth year medical student. They gave us two months of elective time which we could spend in clinical time, research, studying for USMLE, or on vacation. We very carefully (and luckily) conceived Dylan so that my postpartum time would “fit” into this window. If we hadn’t “hit the mark,” I would have graduated late.

    Then we had Casey in my third year of general psychiatry residency. This one was tougher. Before we got started on Casey, I looked into the policies in our division versus others such as pediatrics. In my division, residents were welcome to use their sick and vacation days to have a baby. Any time beyond those days came from the “family and medical leave act” and was strictly unpaid (and therefore, in our case, strictly out of the question.) I do not look upon childbearing and the postpartum experience as an illness, so I balked at the idea of using my sick leave, and any new mom can attest that is was not a vacation-type experience. To be fair, our program is only about 10 years old and actually had no policy, so my leave experience was dictated (by default) by the policies which apply to all hospital personnel at this private institution.

    So, I got six weeks with Casey instead of the eight I got with Dylan. I know it doesn’t sound like much difference, but it felt like a lot. For several weeks after I went back to work, I really didn’t want to be there and I even thought I might have made a mistake by trying to have children and work (in any profession.) Fortunately, my husband stays home with the boys, so I always knew they were with someone who really loved them. I eventually got over it, pretty much, though I do detect some notes of rancor in my post.

    Anyhow, the leave policy for the department of pediatrics at the same institution is that you take you are entitled to as much paid leave as you wish (within reason) but that you must make up the time you miss (fair enough, it seems to me.)

    That’s the facts from out my way. Thanks for asking and I’d like to know how the book turns out.


    My program also does not give maternity leave. I took my 4 weeks vacation for the year when I had my baby (the program was nice about forgiving the 2 days that I took off between her birth and the start of my vacation) and I had the option to use the FMLA without pay after that. The chief residents were very nice and arranged the call schedule so that my last call was 1 week before my due date and I started to take call again 2 weeks after I returned.


    Thank you so much for your reply. These postings are so precious. 😀

    I also wanted to ask a follow-up question: did your partner/husband take leave as well? What was his situation? Again thank you very much! :p


    Hi! I had 3 months at home after the birth of my son in my fourth year of medical school. He was born during the first week of our 4 week “Advanced Pharmacology” course which I was able to take completely from home, as all the handouts were posted on the web and there were two very short online exams which you had several days to complete. The second month of my maternity leave was the month our school grants to each 4th year student to interview for residency. I did the third month as an “independent study” month at home in women’s health which was easy enough to do….lots of time on the computer while I was breastfeeding. Throw in the 2 weeks off for Christmas vacation and I ended up with a good 3 months at home with my baby. I actually could have done a second month of “independent study” but felt that I really needed to get back into the swing of things before I started losing some of my clinical skills. The rotation I was on my first month back was great because I had several half days off during the week and was always scheduled time to pump my breastmilk…..TIMING and PLANNING is KEY!!!
    I am currently a third year resident and have been doing some investigation of our maternity leave policies as I am considering following in the footsteps of senior residents before me and delivering during my last year of training. Not only do you have to look at the hospital policy regarding employee maternity leave, but you must investigate the RRC (Residency Review Committee) guidelines regarding leave for your particular speciality as well as the ACGME (American College of Graduate Medical Education) guidelines. For my particular specialty, Family Practice, the RRC will not allow for more than 2 consecutive months away from your program because patient continuity is so vital to our training. If you exceed this limit, you must extend your training and graduate from the residency late. The residents in my program who have had babies in the last 3 years have all been allowed to take 8 weeks off….4 weeks as vacation/sick/CME time, and 4 weeks as an “away” rotation. Their first 2-4 weeks back they were eased back into things gradually working back up to the patient volume they had before giving birth. The option to take more time off is there, but as I stated before that significantly delays your training completion date.
    If you could time things perfectly, it would be great to deliver a month or two before graduation. That way you could have your baby, take your 4-8 weeks, and then just graduate! You could then set the start date of your new job whenever you wanted so you could have as much time at home with your newborn as you wanted!!
    But then again, there is no way to predict for things like preterm labor, having to go on bedrest, etc. You just do the best you can!
    Hope that was helpful 🙂


    Another research question:

    Along the lines of maternity leave policies, it would be great if I could hear any personal experiences/situations where hardships in the medical profession were experienced BECAUSE of being a woman.

    Again thank you for the valueable information! 🙂


    Researching Mommie Docs,
    Just to let you know, I recently pitched my two cents (or 200, more like it) in the “Physicians” section.

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