Aimee Lutkin writes: The Difficulty of Completing Medical Residencies While Starting Families Is Holding Women Back In Medicine. In her piece she cites a Bloomberg article: Why Having a Baby Pushes Women Out of Medicine.
Both articles acknowledge medical training is hard. Yet both suffer from a fundamental flaw- students and physicians make choices. I’ll use one of the Bloomberg examples:
Like many medical residents, O’Brien forwent maternity leave, against the advice of her doctor. She’d already been accepted to a fellowship with a strict start date; she couldn’t extend her training any further. Instead, she used up all her days off, sent her newborn to day care, and returned to work, often ducking into a shower stall mid-surgery to pump breast milk.
Readers should understand that FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) applies to residents. So O’Brien was eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave. Let’s look-
forwent maternity leave- choice
accepted fellowship- choice
newborn to daycare- choice
Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for anyone brave enough to have kids while in training. I think it’s admirable for someone to put they’re family’s actual needs ahead of other personal goals such as long-term revenue and professional advancement. But it’s at least disingenuous to expect that you can “have it all.” O’Brien made her choices. Everyone of them. Oh, one other choice not included in the Bloomberg article- why didn’t the father of the baby stay home and provide care?
Children change everything. I got married as a resident and my wife (also a resident- surgeon no less) made the specific choice to delay kids until we finished and got new jobs started. Are we “older” parents, yes. But our kids had the benefit of a stable home and income and we were able to have control over our lives that would have been impossible while in training.
O’Brien and her ilk want the world to bend to her needs. It won’t. The O’Briens in medicine need to learn to accept their consequences of actions and live with them. I admire the women and men who can manage families while in training. The behaviours of “O’Briens” make all of us look like whiners.