Young physicians struggle to get recommended family leave

Residency Program Insider, December 12, 2018

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While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends three months of leave after childbirth to support the health of both baby and mother, two new studies suggest that physicians in training receive much less time off than the recommendation. Out of the 15 hospitals affiliated with the United States’ top 12 medical schools, only eight offer paid family leave to physicians in training; yet, all fifteen have policies in place for family leave for faculty physicians. According to one of the two studies, physicians in training receive approximately six-and-a-half weeks of paid leave compared to the eight-and-a-half weeks that faculty physicians receive.

Dr. Christina Mangurian of the University of California, San Francisco, lead author of one of the studies, points out that the shortened family leave could actually impact patient care because it interrupts the family bonding that is essential for the wellness of infants and mothers. Multiple studies have shown that happy physicians provide better care; physicians with shortened family leave may be more subject to burn out and provide subpar care.

Hospitals may have their own reasons for shortening family leave for physicians in training, though. They depend on the clinical care provided by residents, and family leave can make hospitals understaffed. Long periods of absence can also adversely affect a resident’s ability to learn and develop skills. Furthermore, many specialty boards have strict timelines for their training programs and residents who take extended leaves may encounter conflicts with these timelines.

Source: Reuters

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