Childbearing Experiences and Perceptions During Residency Training: A Comparative Study
Minh-Bao Mundschenk, M.D., Susan E. Mackinnon, M.D., Marissa M. Tenenbaum, M.D..
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Purpose: Despite the increasing number of women entering medicine, most surgical residency programs are predominantly male. Furthermore, female residents are increasingly becoming pregnant during residency. This study characterized the childbearing experience during residency at a single institution and compared the perceptions of childbearing between genders, medical subspecialties, and trainees over time.
Methods: A 75 item survey was distributed to current resident physicians in the Departments of Surgery, Medicine, Anesthesia, Orthopedics, and Neurosurgery at Washington University in St. Louis. Responses were collected anonymously, analyzed, and compared to results obtained from female residents in 2008.
Results: In 2015, 94 responses were collected. Among all female residents, 33.3% residents ranked their program higher because of the presence of residents who had been pregnant; similarly, 41.7% did so because of the presence of female faculty.
45.2% of men and 65% of women perceived a negative stigma regarding pregnancy. Only 7.9% of women and 10% of men felt unfairly burdened by pregnant residents. Across medical specialties, most respondents felt that their faculty supported pregnancy during residency.
Marital status and time considerations were the main factors in childbearing decisions for non-pregnant women; this was also true in 2008. Marital status was the main factor for women who became pregnant and men, whereas in 2008, age was the greatest factor for women who became pregnant.
Conclusion: Numerous factors affect childbearing decisions, and the importance of these factors has changed over time. Most trainees perceive a negative stigma concerning pregnancy despite reporting evenly distributed workload and faculty support.
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