Pregnancy and parenthood are common during residency. Women are responsible for more childcare duties than men but have similar research productivity and career aspirations. Further follow-up is necessary to determine the relationship between pregnancy and parenthood over time.
Emma B. Holliday, Awad A. Ahmed, Reshma Jagsi, Natalie Clark, Wendy A. Woodward, Clifton D. Fuller, Charles R. Thomas, Jr; UT MD Anderson Cancer Center; UT Southwestern Medical Center; University of Michigan; Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute
BACKGROUND: Medical school and residency span nearly a decade, during which many students and residents traditionally begin families. As the number of women entering medicine increases, the effects of pregnancy and childbearing on residency experience, research productivity, and career aspirations should be explored. Although men increasingly share childrearing responsibilities in the modern era, recognizing gender differences in time spent in childcare duties and the potential effect on residency experience is paramount to understanding the generational evolution of modern family dynamics for physician-led families.
METHODS: An anonymous, voluntary, 102-item online survey was distributed via email to 540 current radiation oncology residents and 2014 graduates. Respondents were asked about demographics, marital and parental status, pregnancy during residency, publication productivity, career aspirations, and experiences working with pregnant co-residents. Respondents with children were additionally asked about childcare arrangements. Women who had been pregnant during residency were further asked questions regarding radiation safety, maternity leave, and breastfeeding experiences.
RESULTS: A total of 190 respondents completed the survey-107 (56.3%) men and 84 (43.7%) women-for a 35.2% response rate; 97 respondents (51.1%) were parents, and 84 (44.2%) reported that they or their spouse/partner had become pregnant during residency. Also, 52 women (54.2%) and 31 men (33%) (P = .003) reported delaying starting a family due to residency-related reasons. Respondents with children were more often male (65% vs 47.3%; P = .014), were in a higher level of training (79.3% vs 54.8% of respondents were PGY4 or higher; P = .001), were older (median age 32 yr, interquartile range [IQR]: 31–35 yr vs 30, IQR: 29–33 y; P < .001), had a PhD (33% vs 19.3%; P = .033), were married (99% vs 43%; P < .001), and had a spouse/partner who did not work (24.7% vs 1.9%; P < .001). There was no difference in the number of manuscripts published or expressed likelihood of pursing an academic career by parental status. Among parents, men more often had spouses/partners who did not work (38.1% vs 0%; P < .001), reported that their spouse/partner performed a greater percentage of childcare duties (70%, IQR: 60%–80% vs 35%, IQR: 20%–50%; P < .001), and reported that their spouse/partner was more likely to take care of unexpected childcare duties (74.6% vs 31%; P < .001). Common concerns expressed by women with children included radiation safety, maternity leave, breastfeeding, and effects of pregnancy on clinical training, research experience, and their co-residents’ workload.
CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy and parenthood are common during residency. Women are responsible for more childcare duties than men but have similar research productivity and career aspirations. Further follow-up is necessary to determine the relationship between pregnancy and parenthood over time.
Proceedings of the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Radium Society - americanradiumsociety.org