Residency and Family

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    Can some current residents shed some light on residency with little ones at home? Ill be honest – the way people talk about residency absolutely terrifies me. Going to work at 5am, not coming home until 730pm…when will I ever see my kids? That schedule sounds nuts!

    I plan on seeking out a residency that has more humane hours and possibly allows going part time for a short time after maternity leave (take the 8-12wks maternity leave and then transition to part time for a few months then back to full time). Is this realistic? Is fining a part time job after residency realistic until my kids are older? What kind of questions should I ask during residency interviews to find out if the residency is abusive or not? What if you refuse to work hours without logging them?

    What if you’re scared of working so much that you never see your kids?! 🙁 Med school so far has been great and Ive surprisingly been able to spend a ton of time with my little one! Im just scared of the unknown of residency, and everyone talks about it like it is so abusive, so naturally Im nervous.

    Just trying to know what to expect!


    Check out “Starting Intern Year After 9 Month Hiatus with 9 Month Old” in the family/parenting section where I talk about some of what has gotten us through my intern year. To frame it a bit – my husband is also medical, but is finished his training and still has irregular, but fewer hours, gets paid much more, and has slightly more flexibility than me. He still works probably total of ~60hrs/week on average?

    In terms of your other questions – you do what you have to do. You make things work and you grit your teeth and bear it. You value the moments you do have with your kids and you remind yourself that this is a season. The specifics of maternity leave are somewhat of a black box for me (have not had any kids during residency yet), but I think 8-12 weeks would be generous at most places particularly at smaller programs where you not being there means someone else taking much more call, working extra rotations on harder months, etc… Transitioning to part time may also be tricky to negotiate. The way most programs are set up, it’s not like you can just work some days of the week and not others… Someone has to cover the services and so likely “part-time” means on one month, off the next IF the program allows part-time. That said, there may be programs where that is possible… I am in a family-friendly specialty (peds) and I would not feel comfortable even in my program, which overall has been quite supportive of my family, of asking for that because of the burden it would put on others. Things I have asked for (and have gotten):

    1. I have basically stated that I was going to pump for my daughter until she was 12 mo. I was always responsible about it – making sure things were in a good place before running off, but this was a non-negotiable for me and I just matter-of-fact would let whoever I was working with know that I would be heading off to pump q x hrs.

    2. Working out days with my co-interns that I “needed” to be early for family reasons. Again, not something I ever abused, but there were often 3-4 days per month where I would ask NOT to be the late person (we usually are late q3-4 days) since my husband was on call that night or I had a function to go to for one of our kids. I made up for it by working late other nights.

    3. Asking for doing my nights on particular weeks within blocks where we rotate onto nights for part of the rotation. This allowed me to bring our kids to well-child visits, go to performances, bring our oldest to his first day of kindergarten, observe his class, attend a puppet show with my middle child, etc…

    That said, I am very selective about what I ask for. I do not ever ask to do overall less time than anyone else. I try to minimize my requests to the essentials. I do not ask for every single birthday, mother’s day, father’s day, etc… off since I view this as something that would be a burden for our chiefs to schedule. I make sure I prioritize what IS important to me (that said, you may have other things that are more important to you). All of my co-interns have been very supportive I think in large part because I chip into the work as much as they do and try my hardest not to ask for any special treatment where able to. I pull the “mommy card” very infrequently.

    My particular program is cognizant of the hours. I will work right up to exactly the limit, but they want to know if we ever go over and I truly believe that they mean it. I decided at the beginning of residency that I wouldn’t lie about my hours and haven’t violated work hr restrictions although I would outright tell them if I did. I found that talking to residents and just trying to figure out what the general vibe of the program (that gut feeling) was very helpful in determining malignant vs. not (that said, peds is not a very malignant specialty in general). Look for programs where there are people that have kids – generally a good sign that they will be understanding. That said, my particular class of ~30 had 0 other kids (now with 1 other baby). I matched for other geographic reasons and my program has still been very supportive. I have not felt like it is abusive at all, but you work hard largely because you NEED to work hard to get to the place where you have the skills to be an excellent clinician and because you want to provide excellent care to your patients. That said, I sometimes complain about my hours, wish that I was done with training and onto something where I had more control over my hrs, etc…


    Yes, I’m in the same boat – about to start 4th year and wanting to have at least one more baby before I’m done. I’m absolutely terrified of residency as I’m worried I will have no time to be a mom with my kids, so much so that I was looking up other possible career paths post graduation. I love medicine and it is what I would like to do for the rest of my career, but I’m not willing to throw my kids under the bus for it. I understand being selective about what you go to bat for, but sometimes things come up and there is no getting around it. What do you do in that situation?

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