Researching Maternity Leave Policies

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  • #38042

    :p 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.

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

    Sincerely,

    Irene

    #38043
    jessiejessie
    Participant

    My med school had no maternity leave policy. I became pregnant in Nov of my first year. Delivered 2 days before my second year started. Due to my mother’s death 3 wks prior and my newborn, my school “allowed” me to complete my second year course work over two years. Since attendence at lectures is not mandatory, I skipped classes for 3 days post-partum and then on an as necessary basis. I sat for all my exams on time and attended labs as required. That was my maternity leave. Even with my schedule I was able to breastfeed my child for the first year (my school did allow me to pump in a restroom!)

    #38044

    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

    #38045

    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! 🙂

    #38046
    janmariejanmarie
    Participant

    I had my first child at age 36 after I had already been an attending in emergency medicine. I never had to deal with being powerless in a residency program. I had sick time accumulated and I took it like any other hospital employee.

    The work of medicine, ie, call schedules, office hours, the way work is done was created by men long ago who did not have to do the nurturing at home. I’m sure some were good fathers, but they didn’t have to run a home. Their wives did. The way medicine is organized currently causes conflict because the demographics of physicians has changed. Half are women and many men are involved also in caring for their children. The profession is old, and I believe to be able to use the talents of all physicians today, it needs an infusion a creative thinking.
    I think that to how to’s of part-time partnerships and job sharing should be taught in medical school. Every specialty, if they are smart will make themselves attractive to women. If they don’t talented women will not be drawn to them.
    The days have to end where anyone in academic medicine who does not work full time is automatically not promoted. It may take longer, but tenure and promotion should be considered for experienced physicians even if they work part time. When part time work no longer excludes a doctor completely from advancement in authority and when she gets equal pay for the hours worked, then I you might say that women are truly a part of the profession.

    #38047
    janmariejanmarie
    Participant

    I had my first child at age 36 after I had already been an attending in emergency medicine. I never had to deal with being powerless in a residency program. I had sick time accumulated and I took it like any other hospital employee.

    The work of medicine, ie, call schedules, office hours, the way work is done was created by men long ago who did not have to do the nurturing at home. I’m sure some were good fathers, but they didn’t have to run a home. Their wives did. The way medicine is organized currently causes conflict because the demographics of physicians has changed. Half are women and many men are involved also in caring for their children. The profession is old, and I believe to be able to use the talents of all physicians today, it needs an infusion a creative thinking.
    The how to’s of part-time partnerships and job sharing should be taught in medical school. Women need this. Denying one’s childbearing is ridiculous. It happens. Get over it!

    The powers that be in every specialty, if they are smart will make themselves attractive to women. If they don’t, talented women will not be drawn to them. They will be smart enough to go elsewhere.

    The days have to end where anyone in academic medicine who does not work full time is automatically not promoted. It may take longer, but tenure and promotion should be considered for any experienced physicians even if they work part time. When part time work no longer excludes a doctor completely from advancement in authority and when she gets equal pay for the hours worked compared to her peers, then I you might say that women are truly a part of the profession. But there are still academic medical centers who marginalize talented women. Their opinions are never heard.

    There are some smart institutions, like Johns Hopkins around 1990, that noticed they were experiencing a brain drain when women left because the institution did not mentor them and because they maintained family-unfriendly policies. They made changes and apparently things improved. Institutions will eventually notice that attracting women by changing rusty policies is in their best interest.

    Young women have to push for change and question every little policy that gets in their way of establishing a career that is fulfilling. They have to become tough negotiators and advocate for themselves for pay and promotion and fair partnerships. If they don’t , no one else will. Is this being taught today in medical school? I hope so. In 1980,it wasn’t mentioned. Also, I had not a clue that it was important.

    I would just say that women have to make the profession their own. They are not visitors any longer. Maternity leave should be planned as should pregnancies if possible, but it is part of life, nothing to feel guilty about.

    #38048
    katherinekatherine
    Participant

    Hi Irene,
    I am a resident in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who had a baby last year. The maternity leave policy was determined by the hospital at which I work, but then the American Academy of PM&R has some rules which affect me as well. For instance, it’s an institution-wide policy (at least for the residents) that one can take 6 weeks (30 working days) maternity leave paid, and then an additional 6 weeks unpaid. (Paternity leave, interestingly, is 2 days. And darn it, I needed more than 2 days’ worth of help after the baby was born!-My husband took vacation.)

    The American Academy of PM&R, however, has a rule that in order to take boards in May of the graduating year, one must also finish all of the residency rotations by August of that year. So, for instance, if I want to take boards along with my class, I better not have more children! I wouldn’t be able to finish making up two maternity leaves by August of my graduating year.
    I may be a bit fuzzy on the details of this policy, but each area of medicine (e.g. PM&R, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine) has its own policies. These can probably be found somewhere in the residency manuals/rule books put forth by each official area (e.g. The American Academy of PM&R, The American Academy of Family Medicine.)

    I had never taken a sick day (despite some days of running a temp and barely being able to stand up), but if I had, it would have been subtracted from my maternity leave. Luckily, I worked a full day on Friday September 7 and gave birth on Saturday on September 8.

    As a side point, I was assigned to an inpatient hospital service for the month of September. My residency program was the first to know about my pregnancy, and my due date of Sep. 11, so I was quite surprised when the schedules came out, and had me covering a hospital service in September. The hours are long and difficult, and as an intern on the hospital service, your responsibility is great, but I figured, what the heck, I’ll work until I give birth and that will be all the less hospital service I’ll need to do after I have a child.

    I called the program secretaries after receiving the schedule, to make sure they had remembered my due date. After all, no other intern was assigned with me, and that meant I would carry sole responsibility (other than the Attending) for my inpatient service. Yep, don’t worry, they assured me, they had arranged coverage for after I gave birth.

    Well, my program director emailed me in the months prior to my delivery, kindly inviting me to a baby shower to be hosted by “the women in the deptmnt.” Very thoughtful. But in trying to arrange a date, she asked me, “What is your due date again?” “September 11,” I replied. “WOW, that is sooner than I thought,” she said. “You’re assigned to an inpatient month that month. What have you arranged for coverage?”

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with residency, Irene, but let me tell you, we have absolutely no control over our schedule. I would never have assigned myself to an inpatient month during my due-date month. I questioned it when I was. And it is inane to even suggest that I would need to arrange my own coverage for after giving birth. The schedulers knew about my pregnancy and due date before they even made the schedule!!

    Another beef I have: it turns out that my working September 1-7 “doesn’t count,” simply because it’s easier to assign me to a month-long rotation. Moreover, the make-up “month” I’ve been assigned to actually contains 5 weeks in it. So instead of making up 3 weeks, I’m making up 5. It sounds like no big deal, but when you’re doing it, and you’re exhausted, and you’re 14 hrs/day in the hospital with a child at home, it is hard. When you’re doing it, every day counts.

    So there’s my experience. Hope I don’t sound too hostile.

    Incidentally, I don’t think it’s smart for me (from a biological standpoint) to wait until the end of residency before having more kids. So if that meant not being able to take boards with my class, so be it. (I’m thinking of pursuing non-clinical medicine anyways, and am unsure if I’ll take boards at all.) But another point I didn’t mention: my specialty requires that one takes oral boards as well, and this must be taken one year after working full-time out of residency, or two years of working half-time. So for moms with kids who are long awaiting the end of residency so they can work 2 days a week, they might be in for a post-residency surprise! There are a lot of little rules out there which one may not even KNOW to research before choosing a specialty.

    #38049
    jessiejessie
    Participant

    Irene,
    It’s me again. Sorry to see so few replies. Hope your research is coming along well. To answer the husband question, he was a radiology resident at the time and was allowed 2 days off. Our child was hospitalized the first week of life so those 2 days were used up before the baby even came home from the hospital.

    I had many negative experiences with the medical community during training related to being a woman and a mother. I wouldn’t even know where to begin! I am very bitter toward my residency program and others. My med school experience was not too bad compared to residency. What surprised me the most is that my area is pediatrics and I expected less of the old boys network stuff and a more pro-family atmosphere–HA! Not hardly! Just to give you an idea of how family unfriendly the world of medicine can be I’ll give you one of my experiences.

    I finished med school in the top 25% of my class and had decent (tho not stellar) board scores–this in light of the fact I had a baby/toddler/pre-schooler for 4 of the 5 years I took to complete med school. (Elected to take that much time, never failed a course or boards.) Also, my mother died 3 weeks before I gave birth and I was married to a resident who had crazy hours. With this background I think most would agree that I did a fine job and should have been a desirable candidate. My letters of recommendation were also very good as I understand it.

    Well, my husband landed his fellowship while I was a third year med student (which would begin at the same time I would begin residency.) There was only 1 peds program in the vicinity of his fellowship. I did an elective there in hopes to increase my chances and give a face to my name and application. I did OK on the elective to the best of my knowledge. During my interviews I REALLY played up how important it was to our family that I match in their program. We had no outside support (family or friends) in that area of the country and my husband and I faced grueling hours of training and care of a small child. I DID NOT MATCH in their program. To make it even worse, match day is a VERY public event at my med school. My matching program was announced and I had to parade in front of my entire class to shake some administrator’s hand while forcing back the sobs and tears. I left before speaking to anyone, I was devestated.

    I did match in a program 70 miles away from my husband’s and we managed to maintain our family and remain married now, but no thanks to the medical community! During the ensuing years I met a med student who wanted to match in the aforementioned program to be near her fiance. She found out that they really look down on applicants who want to attend their program for “geographic” reasons!!!!! Where, I ask, is the family friendliness in that hogwash?! As part of your research you should learn about “THE MATCH” and the “couple’s match” (which only applies to those entering residency at the same time.) It is supposed to “protect the student’s interests” but really it protects the hospital’s interests–they are more likely to fill their spots this way.

    I have rambled on long enough. As I said, I am VERY BITTER and that experience is only the tip of the iceberg. And lest you think I am some kind of loser, my former employer keeps begging me to come back, suggesting I commute 1000 miles to my old practice. I can’t be that much of a loser now can I?

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