Home E-Weekly July 11, 2017

Surgeon Moms Face Tough Choices

Published: July 10, 2017

CHILD CARE Female surgeons need to be supported during their pregnancies and maternity leaves.

There's no ideal time for female surgeons to start a family, so they should decide to have a child when the time is right for them and their significant others, according to a survey of more than 700 physician-mothers who were questioned while they were in medical school.

Of the 738 physician-mothers who were surveyed for the Journal of the American College of Surgeons study, 221 were training to become surgeons. The female surgeons faced greater schedule inflexibility, more physical demands, higher uses of assisted reproduction, shorter maternity leaves and were more likely to have to find coverage for themselves instead of receiving assistance from their department chairs if they needed to take time off from work.

"These issues correlated with lower career satisfaction," says lead researcher Jennifer Davids, MD, FACS, FASCRS, an assistant professor of surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.

The research was born out of Dr. Davids' personal experience as a surgeon and mother. She had her first child during residency and her second child in the first year of practice, when she had to juggle a tremendous amount of work responsibility with the demands of home.

Women should follow their passion and have no regrets about doing so, says Dr. Davids. "At the same time, now that there are more surgeon moms in medicine, and more dual medical career couples, finding time to raise a family is becoming more of a global issue," she adds. "Child birth and maternity leave are temporary periods in someone's career. It's important to support women — and men — during these times."

Daniel Cook

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