Pregnancy and Parental Leave During Graduate Medical Education

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To understand the pregnancy, childbirth, and parental leave plans and experiences of trainees in multiple graduate medical education (GME) programs at a single institution.


In 2013, the authors developed and deployed a voluntary, Internet-based survey of trainees in 269 residency and fellowship programs across the three sites of the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education. The survey assessed pregnancy-related issues, including use of relevant institutional policies, changes in work due to pregnancy, and activities during pregnancy and parental leave. The authors analyzed the responses to make comparisons across groups.


Forty-two percent (644/1,516) of trainees responded. Less than half (264; 41%) had children, and 46 (7%) were currently pregnant (themselves or their partners). Among parents, 24 (of 73; 33%) women and 28 (of 81; 35%) men planned to have another child during their current training program, and 13 (18%) women and 14 (17%) men planned to do so during their next training program. Among nonparents, 40 (of 135; 30%) women and 36 (of 111; 32%) men planned pregnancies during their current training program, and 25 (19%) women and 14 (13%) men planned pregnancies during their next training program. Of respondents eligible for parental leave, 81 (of 83; 98%) women and 89 (of 101; 88%) men had used it.


Approximately 40% of respondents planned to have children during their GME training; most will require family leave and institutional support. GME programs should pursue policies and practices to minimize the effects of these leaves on their workforce.

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