Scott Pasichow, MD, MPH and Rachel Solnick, MD, MSc
Yale School of Medicine
“Family Leave in Residency: Program Director Survey”
Academy for Women in Emergency Medicine Research Grant
In recent decades, more women have been entering emergency medicine residencies and more residents have begun to start families during GME training, increasing from 13% of women in 1983 to surpassing 35% more recently. With this demographic shift, there has been an increased interest in parental leave policies. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) does not provide specific guidance on parental leave policies. The American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) does however specify that leaves of absences that exceed six weeks require an extension of residency training. It is unknown how frequently the ABEM metric is incorporated into leave policies and time off utilization at each program. As such, though the prevalence of formal leave policies has been increasing over time, there is still wide variation across specialties with regard to the proportion that provide maternity or paternity leave, and how much time residents take off for leave. Moreover, previous studies have shown that the majority of program director of obstetrics gynecology and surgical residencies believe parental leave negatively impacts residents’ performance.
To date, emergency medicine has had no studies of parental leave during residency. We plan the first nationwide survey of all emergency residency program directors to learn: 1) how prevalent childrearing during emergency medicine residency is 2) how many weeks off childbearing and nonchildbearing parents take 3) what are program directors’ attitudes and perceptions about leave during residency and 4) what institutional supports are offered to support new parents such as breastfeeding facilities and child care. We hypothesize that residents take less time off than program directors think they should, that program directors have an overall slightly negative perception of the impact of becoming a parent during residency, and that programs offer wide variation of institutional supports. We are also conducting a funded survey of EM residents asking similar questions of perceptions of parental leave which will allow us to compare with the program director data for key insights on areas of contrast. This data will arm us with the tools to increase the consistency and clarity of parental leave policies in EM. We hope this data will lead to the eventual development of clear parental leave policies will further strengthen our ability to attract and retain the best EM physicians and while simultaneously addressing the gender gap for women in EM.
The stresses and time commitments of residency make it difficult for residents to plan for having a family. This often leads to delays in child-rearing. By better understanding how residency leave policies play into that decision, we can find policies and supports to mitigate those contributing factors, improve resident wellness, prevent burn out and in particular, aid in the advancement of women in emergency medicine.
Drs. Pasichow and Solnick are still completing the project.