Hypocrites in our own house: Maternity leave and American Healthcare

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Netflix listens to doctors.  Google, Facebook, and Apple listens to doctors.  The United States Navy and Marine Corps listen.

The above “companies” have updated their maternity leave policies – lengthening them all past 12 weeks… and all paid.

But yet, healthcare doesn’t listen to doctors.  And let me tell you how.

I am pregnant.  Which is a blessing in of itself.  In fact, this is my 4th pregnancy, but I only have one child living.  So really, this is an absolute blessing that I have had a healthy pregnancy so far.  I should be over the moon excited.  Yet, there has been a black cloud over my heart since I first saw the “yes” on the pregnancy test.

Currently, I am the sole income for our family while my husband is in law school.  And yet, my job does not provide fully paid maternity leave.  The thoughts and stress of how we are going to balance our financial needs with my family’s emotional need for me to spend that precious, once in a lifetime time at home with our new son has left me downright drained.

I am currently in “discussions” with my large academic health physicians group as to how much paid leave I will actually receive for maternity leave.  And let me tell you, their initial response was significantly less than 12 weeks.  I think for me, the most disheartening part of these “discussions” with my employers is that they keep asking themselves, “Well, what have we done in the past?” instead of, “What should we be doing?”  Despite the fact that I will need a repeat cesarean section.  Despite the fact that due to short staffing over the past 3 years, I have given up 8 weeks of vacation and worked extended hours for years – including in-house calls up to 62 hours in a row.  Yep, folks, you read that correctly.  I have literally come in to this hospital on a Friday, and not left until a Monday morning.  And I have done it, because that is what the job required, what my hospital needed.  Trauma surgeons are a national shortage, and my profession often calls for dedication above and beyond the imaginable.

I always felt like that dedication was well placed – for my patients, for my hospital, for my community.  And that this dedication was shared by healthcare in general.  However, I feel that maternity leave is an issue that highlights my belief that for many institutions and practices, healthcare has lost its focus.  Healthcare should be about caring for people – our patients and each other.  Healthcare should be setting the standard for how other companies handle maternity leave – yet we are amongst the worst hypocrites.

After all, we are the ones recommending that women exclusively breast feed for a year – yet practice administrators dictate whether or not physicians can build 15 minute pumping breaks into their schedules.  We recommend women not return to work for 8 weeks after a cesarean section, yet we don’t pay them.  Several studies have shown that women who return to work before 12 weeks have children with more behavioral problems in early childhood, yet, if she doesn’t come back by 12 weeks, we take away her job.  We know that depression is directly linked to a lack of time off after the delivery of a baby, yet we continue to point to the letter of the law and say that what we offer is enough.  I wish these examples and studies weren’t real, but they are.

The dollars and cents seem to matter more for those that employ physicians than the health of their physicians.  The disparity of how maternity leave is handled amongst physicians here in the United States is downright shocking.  Some institutions automatically grant 12 weeks paid, but these unfortunately are in the minority. Most pregnant physicians are in a similar situation to me, and are left to fight, scramble, and scrap together time off after delivery and even time to pump when we do return to work.

And the kicker of it is, the physicians are usually the worst hit by these policies.  If I were a nurse, or an hourly employee, I would be able to roll over or accrue my vacation days. Other employees could even donate paid time off to me.  I would be mandated lunch and work breaks so I could pump.  I would never be left wondering how I could safely store breast milk for up to three calendar days. But yet none of these options are typically available to physicians.

I wish this were one of my usually snarky, humorous, Gomerblog worthy posts, but it isn’t. Unfortunately, I am writing today from a place of hurt, a place of feeling abandoned by my own profession – the people that are supposed to care about my health the most, seem to care about it the least.

I hope and pray, for the future of healthcare here in America, that these policies will change – to the benefit of the physicians, and the patients for whom we care.  After all, if we can’t take care of ourselves, how are we supposed to care for others?

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42 thoughts on “Hypocrites in our own house: Maternity leave and American Healthcare

  1. Pingback: Hypocrites in our own house: Maternity leave and American Healthcare | generallymedicine

  2. When I got back to work after having my daughter, not having designated time to pump (and trust me, I tried to make my schedule work but, you know, someone always needs u and is waiting for you) made me only make milk for 2 weeks (TWO WEEKS) before my body said no more and we had to switch to formula. She was only 12 weeks old. Not at all what I wanted and I completely blame my job for that.

  3. I went back to work 3.5 weeks after vaginal delivery as a general surgery chief resident due to lack of time during residency and then took only 6 weeks off after a C-section as faculty with my second child because our institution doesn’t give maternity leave at all until you after you have been here 2 years (and I was the sole income provider). I felt ill last year as I watched one of our chief residents come back to work after 4 weeks of “maternity leave” and be congratulated on doing so in order to finish residency on time. For women, our residency and early careers are when we are biologically going to have children or else we may not be able to.These sorts of policies are BS and they are bad for us and bad for residents. It has to change.

  4. I hear you loud and clear. My time off for my third baby was 18 days, and this was after agreeing to take only the 3 weeks vacation any one in the practice was given for the year as my only leave, being made to work extra weeks of call before and after delivering and to come back 2 days early because they refused to cover any days of the week under threat of my job. I got 4 weeks as a resident as well and didn’t think that would seem like a luxury but it’s all in what you get through. Am sole bread winner as well so didn’t really have option to argue. As John Oliver pointed out recently, we and Paupau New Guinea are the only countries without a paid maternity leave policy. Maybe time to organize?

  5. I feel for you. My EM group, whom I love dearly, does not offer vacation time or sick leave. We recently lost a fantastic prospect hire who needs at least two more orthopedic surgeries in the near future because of this. One of our NP’s on the adult side is pregnant and two providers on our peds side are pregnant all due around the same time.

    We do get some sick time because of a city policy but it’s only 40 hours. We have a sabbatical program but it’s a fraction of our monthly earnings. It’s just not feasible as a private group.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy – I hope it continues to go well!

  6. I went back to work 8 weeks after my c/section with my son to a busy OB practice. They were mad I took 8 weeks off instead of the 6 weeks I was offered. They were mad that I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks and couldn’t work. I felt unsupported and was depressed my son’s first year of life. This is such a heartfelt article and I really appreciate your honesty. I hope and pray that it changes some hearts and minds….

  7. Yeah….I hear you. A female attending once told the women in my med school class to choose being a doctor or being a mom. She said don’t do both. Lots of women stormed out of the room. Eventually, I chose to be a mom and to put up with criticism. I’ve “wasted my education” and “took someone else’s spot” and “am a waste of time and money.” This is what women have to put up with all the time. Work until you have kids, then be an underappreciated useless to society has been. I hope your employers value you enough to get proper time off. Their loss if you choose to be a stay at home mom.

  8. I’m not so sure of that. Why should others be asked to take up the slack for months or longer? I was one of those who got asked to work overtime so that people could be paid for working full time when they worked part time for almost a year. I never got anything out of it and hey I have a family too. It wasn’t the first time I got crapped on because ‘oh my kids need X, Y, Z’.

    In trauma, what they probably aren’t telling you, and what a boss told me, is that what you go into they are going to expect you there and you are going to lose out at family times, it is part of the territory of medicine, and you know this. That’s part of the job.

    What about those who can’t or didn’t have families? How are they getting it made up to them for that? The other countries may have a smaller net but are you willing to pay for the taxes that it takes to support that? The way things are now, the middle class is getting squeezed out which is why our economy is a mess. The middle class can’t afford to buy things and the poor can only afford to buy staples.

    What about handicapped people in surgery? Have you thought about how they are discriminated against? Are you fighting for their rights or just yours? Consider that. That’s what I got told to me.

    I’ve had another doctor blogger that won’t post anything that doesn’t jibe with their thoughts. I have another one that prints them all if they worded, even like mine. I want to know which one you are like. I’m not saying anything but what others aren’t thinking.

    • I find this to be an interesting argument. To me, I think it is important that we all help each other. You may have chosen to not have children, but there may come a time when you have an ill parent, or a serious personal illness. Surely everyone would cover for you, right? I don’t think anyone doubts that we all give up family time for medicine, but there should not have to be a choice between having a career and having a family.

      • That didn’t happen. I was told to suck it up. I couldn’t get disability time, had to fight fight fight for it, but it was ok for the years I had to put up with losing my time because someone else has babies/young kids. No, they didn’t cover for me. I lost years with my family. I’m not the only one who that was done to.

        You can have the career. You can have the family. It just might be you choose to work part time and either the job accepts that or not. Don’t ask others to choose between their families. Part of being in medicine is that you give up to help people. Patients want someone who is there for their illness, not when you feel like it, or around your schedule.

        If you are asking for this many accomodations, do you think these people are saying I want someone like this on my team? I have to keep accommodating, accommodating, what else are they going to want? You can only work days, no weekends, etc. Its going to happen.

      • It sounds as if you have had a really tough time, Vic. I am sorry for all that you have gone through. I hope you are able to find a more supportive community.

    • The perceived greater suffering of others doesn’t invalidate the suffering of the one.

      She’s allowed to make a valid point about a relevant, if contentious, issue. She said herself it will take a complete overhaul of the system to get it to work. Please don’t belittle her hurt simply because you don’t understand it.

      • I understand it. I just don’t agree with it. I can also tell you what others are thinking. They may not say it but I guarantee you they are thinking it. Having been one of the ones crapped on and seen family members who were single and had that done to them, sorry, but we all make choices. I’m not here to support someone elses’ choice of kids and to run out at 5 pm and leave all the weekends to the childless or those who have kids grown up. We have families, we have friends. I’ve seen it constantly done before.

    • Reply to Vic: The perceived greater suffering of others doesn’t invalidate the suffering of the one.

      She’s allowed to make a valid point about a relevant, if contentious, issue. She said herself it will take a complete overhaul of the system to get it to work. Please don’t belittle her hurt simply because you don’t understand it.

      • Healthcare has lost its focus. Look at the postings: its ‘me me me’. Nothing about the patients or the business you work for.

        When the admin is talked to, why is it in their interests, or the patients’ interest, for someone to be gone that long when they are already short staffed as it is? Do you think that gives an impression to people that when push comes to shove, you are going to be there for them? Did you ask your coworkers about how they feel having to pick up the slack for you, why they should donate what little time they have just for your situation? What if several of them have kids or get pregnant also, how is a group already short staffed going to deal with that? Its was about people donating to you but not your plan to donate back. How can the hospital function when you can’t work or ‘my kid is sick’ or ‘kid is home from school & no one to take care of her’ or when someone else’s kid is sick, are you going to help them out because they helped you out, even if it means putting your own at a disadvantage? Do you want a doctor who was supposed to learn for say 3 years, and only put in 2? Ask a patient that question.

        No one has answered those tough questions but the admin you spoke with are going to be thinking it.

        What I’m saying is, sometimes compassion is telling people the truth. Yes you have done your time, but that is part and parcel of being a doctor. That’s the way it is and the way it is for many. Many of us don’t get sick leave packages, etc.

        I mean you knew you are the bread winner, you knew hubby is in law school, and honestly you did choose to get pregnant. It is possible to prevent that and as a doctor I’m sure you know that. The admin is now having to ask themselves is this a team player or not?

        I want you to understand how you approach these things is going to make a huge difference. The tale told was one of “me” and not one where it said how “me” is going to help others out, how things could work for the benefit of others, how little time it would take, how you are going to give back to others. The support of coworkers, etc. and none of them were consulted, it seems.

        Even if you do win, I’m here to tell you, they will sour on you. Seen it happen in over 25 years.

      • You know what? Patients want doctors at their best.

        Healthy doctors are at their best. Balanced doctors are at their best.

        I’m not buying any of the bullshit about it all being ‘part of the job’ or doing it just for others.

        There are a million ways to help others without the damage medicine does to me.
        The damage has to stop. Doctors get to think of themselves from time to time, just like everyone else. Trust me, we spend more time on other people than the people we’re helping.

        Why does wanting to help others exclude us from a normal life? Why exactly?
        Give me one good reason. A good one.

        I’m not returning to medicine full time after my leave. Never in my life.

        I’m glad I do get to help someone, because on a personal level the sacrifice wasn’t worth it. Helping others is what puts some point in what we’re doing.

        How are patients supposed to trust healthcare if the providers aren’t healthy? I wouldn’t sell much of a weight loss program if I am morbidly obese myself. Why do you think that’s any different for healthcare?
        Healthcare is supposed to focus on everyone’s health. Last time I checked, providers are people too.

    • As a female surgeon without children, I respectfully disagree with your arguements. We should be asked to take up the slack because being a mother is a valuable role for women in a society, including those who have other professional roles. And it takes time, effort, and requires support. Just as those who chose to do administrative roles or research require some protected time and funding to do so and the rest of the department “takes up the slack”. It is critical to our society that mothers and fathers be supported to raise the future members of our country, and in my opinion getting 12 weeks after delivering a newborn who is COMPLETELY dependent on others is asking for too little.
      Why do we think it is OK for our job to always take precedence over family time? Surgeons are interchangeable and replaceable, being someone’s mother, father, or child really isn’t. I believe it’s fine for work to take precedence in some circumstances, but not all. Mothers of newborn babies are one instance where it isn’t.
      I don’t believe that if I work harder for those around me to fulfill their other roles that are societally and personally important that I am getting the raw end of the deal. That’s part of living in a community, contributing to society in a way that may not bring me an immediate tangible benefit but hopefully will contribute to a lasting broader good.
      The arguement that it is financially debilitating to give longer maternity leaves doesn’t actually hold true in reality. When Vodaphone recently decided to offer paid 16-week maternity leave and optional 30-hour workweeks for those returning from maternity leave to employees in all countries it did so because it was better financially than a shorter maternity leave (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31761572). When they asked an accounting firm to look at the cost-benefit they found that “the costs of a more generous maternity provision were outweighed by the costs of replacing women leaving the workforce”. It actually saves them $19 billion a year.
      Fighting for the rights of one group does not limit the fight for rights of another unless they are in opposition. Arguements to improve maternity leave will benefit hadicapped parents and children as well as those who do not suffer from disabilities. And a reassessment of how we treat those with “temporary disability” due to childbirth could in fact improve the conversation and appreciation of those with other disabilities.
      I’m glad you posted, because I am sure you are correct in saying others are thinking similarly, and having an open discussion is a very important part of a free, democratic society grappling with these issues. Hopefully we can continue the discussion with respect and the goal of improving the lives of all members of our community.

      • Until we get 16 weeks leave the same as parents, or whatever, pump time and the parents take up for it when we decide we want to, nope, there is no requirement in the world that happens. Tell the men the same thing. I guarantee you they will support it when they get 12 weeks off just for the heck of it.

        People don’t mind some accomodations but there are way too many who will milk it. If you had to make up the time that you are out for another year of residency or another semester, are you going to do that?

        So you ask your patients, say if you had 2 kids during residency and were out for a total of 3-6 months, missing training time, that they should be ok with that? Compared to someone who missed a month but kept up time? What about the total hours you were out pumping? When you are in the middle of a case, how is someone supposed to spell you in the OR? Are you stopping cases? Tell other doctors call another day because you are pumping and well the patients’ medicine can wait?

        That is not just lost time and problems but it is also one for patients, time where funds are lost out. Tell that to admin. I think you need to see the cascade of what you are talking about. You are not willing to do another 1/2 year of residency for the time you lose out in training, training others, etc. Why should your patients accept that?

      • I live in Holland where I get the pumping time and 16 week leave and option to come back 4 days a week instead of full time.

        My training programme will be lengthened with the time I am off or working less. Pumping time doesn’t count for that, my child has the same right to breast milk as any other baby.

        The only patients ever complaining about a doctor not working full time are the ones who were demanding and wanted appointments on a certain time with a certain doctor. Sorry, can’t have it all. I’ve never had a problem with someone who got a different doctor in an emergency setting.

        For all those who have issues with others having kids: others kids will take care of you when you’re old. Remember that.

        I also think more attractive working conditions would attract more people to become doctors and to stay doctors, improving the shortage situation.

    • Well, my attitude is if you are invested in the continuation of the human race, you need to respect the very real needs of moms and babies. (No, this is NOT asking for every weekend and holiday off and no call until the kids are 22.) And if you care about women, you will not insist they choose motherhood OR a career, while it goes without saying that men can be dads and doctors both, no problem, no guilt.

      I think maybe we should all plan and budget for a certain number of maternity – AND paternity – leaves if we think that childbearing is a valued human activity that should go on.

      • Americans are invested in their own continuation. They are tired of paying for everyones’ pet issues. Businesses are in the mission to make profit, not to pay for everyones’ issues, and kids are one of those distractors. I’ve seen it many, many places, yes it is I want to leave early because of my kids and it always takes priority, or there are complaints because someone can’t have off and why doesn’t someone who wants to see an opera, well that can wait because my kids come first. Not to that person!

        What people (and I’m not the only one) is that there is no recognition that your priorities and choices are not everyone elses’, they aren’t your corporations interests, and until you have something showing you pull your weight, your patients’ don’t care less because all they know is that you you you take priority over their health.

        Not all women have children. So why should they, like men, be stuck having to pay for everyone elses’ kids, who aren’t taking care of them, especially the way Social Security goes in America. Ask patients, if you can’t handle both with the added demands of medicine, they are not going to want you as a doctor.

        If men want off, the same applies. I don’t care whether it is men or women.

  9. I am a general surgeon and joined a private practice group of three male general surgeons when I finished residency. I was asked to write a maternity leave policy with the understanding that I would make up all call days and use vacation days before disability which did not pay until after 90 days of absence. Need less to say I left to start my own practice which has thrived for the last twenty years. However, I returned to work after the delivery of my three children within a week of vaginal deliveries because my overhead continued. As a self employed patient shared with me, “when I call in sick no one answers the phone” and my office staff can’t do my job. Solo private practice was still an excellent choice for me because I had the flexibility to work through lunch and be home when my children finished school (especially important when they were teenagers). As surgeons, we are trained to work hard, run a busy office, and focus in the operating room. It was a difficult balance but my children have thrived. Ironically, now that my children have left the nest l am employed by the local hospital and rejoined the above male surgeon group under a multi specialty umbrella.

  10. That is appalling. Really.

    I’m a GP registrar in Holland and 19 weeks pregnant with my first. I have 16-18 weeks maternity leave, starting at week 36 of pregnancy. I will probably go at 35 weeks. I am not allowed to work past 36 weeks.
    Dutch law says I get leave till 10 weeks past the delivery. I have 2 weeks of vacation time to take up during that time, so I am not returning before 12 weeks.

  11. Pingback: 1 (usually growing) reason why every single man in America should care about maternity leave | Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel

  12. This is America. Not any other country. If you look at the countries with social nets, are you getting the USA doctors to accept the salaries and tax structure with all these benefits? They sure won’t be doing as well know. How many British GP’s are hauling out or want to because of the NHS? How many Le Pens’ are out there because they want other cultures out of their country, especially with comments about Romanians and others taking benefit? (You call them welfare or entitlements in this country.)

    The more medicine is socialized, the more waste happens in the system. The more abuse.

    I never saw my questions to how things were phrased in the meeting, etc. I would love to see that the surgeon blogger took this and all the comments and let the patients judge for themselves. You are going to get people who agree. Then you may have others who say, what happens to me, my family or loved ones, if this person need to haul out due to sick kid, getting too large at the end of pregnancy, pumping? OR’s run on time as much as possible, and there are blocks of time. If you have to miss or cant schedule surgery, the office would want some one who can fill that time. There are lot of nurses, staff, and machines to pay for. The blogger has never addressed those issues, so I would guess left that out with the bosses/workers. That indicates a lot to bosses about the emotional intelligence of the person. Study HR professional ways of handling things. I find it invaluable.

    I would guess from the lack of response to my many questions its been enlightening to say the least. What hasn’t been said, and I guess wasn’t addressed when the blogger met with others, is what are the chances of her being able to operate at 6-7 months out or more? Is the issue facing her (that maybe she didn’t consider earlier) that she will have to take leave because she can’t do the job at that far out pregnant, and it would put her at several months of non paid FMLA leave? Take out loans, you can always do that, but the company is probably asking itself why they should pay for it and not you. The fact is, unless the hubby is in the early 20’s right out of school, law school prospects of jobs are not at all what they used to be (per Forbes, etc.) and the pay is shot too. Buddy of mine at one of the top 10 law schools in the nation, the way they got jobs was because of “family law firm”. Tax law might be different. Government type law might be different but specific to certain areas of the country.

    The reason why Chris Rock and others don’t want to perform on college campuses is because no one can deal with reality any more. They talk about the mindset of kids today who can’t deal with issues and want it shut up or hushed up.

    Not everyone who tells you a different viewpoint is incorrect, wrong, or needs to be hushed up. Sometimes tough love, such as was given to me by my mentors, was meant to show me how to develop and understand and mature through what life deals with us. How one reacts to that tells a lot about the person and their emotional development.

    • I am from Germany originally and while there may be a lot of waste in a “socialized medical system” I think the proof is in the pudding and the numbers speak for themselves: The US spends the most amount of money on healthcare and has the sickest population and the lowest life expectancy of any industrialized country. I hear your outrage, I too was the cover when one of my classmates had a baby and was out during residency. But I made my choice and she made hers.
      And just because the system is set up to torture doctors doesn’t mean it’s the individual’s fault. I think we as a profession believe that we are irreplaceable and that we should “suck it up”, but let’s get real, if one of us keals over tomorrow there is another person there to take our place. If you have a serious illness tomorrow or next week, will you drag yourself to work before it’s safe? Let’s get real and out our money where our so-called family values are. Let’s provide maternity AND paternity leave, let’s provide sick leave and adequate paid vacation, and let’s provide good affordable child care. Not only doctors or women will benefit, society as a whole will benefit, because we will have children who feel valued and we will have a society where people matter and not just the bottom line. Yes, adjustments will need to be made, but I would take less money and higher taxes to have a more sane life and not have to worry about my future.

  13. I am so glad you wrote this article. Graduating forty years ago when there were many fewer females in medicine, I have a little different view. My first child was born during residency. I worked until he days she was born, took four weeks vacation and then eight weeks unpaid leave. Pumping didn’t work out for me plus my baby preferred formula once it was introduced. I was a single mom and my parents helped me out.

    With my other two pregnancies, I went from full time to part time work in a workers compensation clinic. My husband worked part time in my place while I was at home with the babies. Eventually I took seven years off to be full time mom. For the past eighteen years I have worked ER full time. We currently have one doc in our group who works ONLY Tuesdat and Wednesday, no weekends and no holidays. He is a man over fifty years of age. So, Vic, it’s not just women who work disproportionately. In fact, last year, the above mentioned Doctor changed his days to Monday and Tuesday to avoid working Christmas.

    But I drift, the important thing in this post is the lack of maternity leave for women in America, not just doctors, but all women. WHO recommends two years of breast feeding. That’s a real rarity in our country. My youngest daughter lives in Prague and enjoyed paid leave from the 36th week of pregnancy for up to two years. She teaches second grade in an international school, returned to work at four months and her husband stayed home earning partial pay.. From January till June he took my granddaughter to her mom at lunchtime so she could nurse. Caroline pumped in the morning. All women and their children should have this opportunity. Our country is so far behind in providing maternity benefits it’s ridiculous.

    And one last comment, when I was interviewing for med school one doc actually asked me what I would do if I got married. My reply was that I’d cross that bridge when I reached it. But I am pretty sure he never asked a male physician that question.

    • I’m glad you did what worked for you and baby. I know a good many on bottle formula that turned out just fine (for various reasons).

      Yes, more doctors, when they get older, do work park time. That’s at least the stats that are going out. The attitude in many is that they’ve paid their loans off so off they go to part time.

      Sharon, did you make up the 3 months in terms of training? That’s where I have an issue. We already have a good number of surgeons coming out of training who are not comfortable (and others aren’t comfortable with them) with doing surgeries alone. I mention no particulars but there is at least one surgeon who sends anything complicated or open over to the teaching schools. They can’t handle it and don’t have the confidence to learn. So do you understand why I as a patient, would be nervous about this issue? You guys know about it. The question is why you do nothing on it. That’s what patients see when they look at a doctor. I’m not seeing how this is getting addressed, and it definitely should be.

      Again, this is not any where else. This is America. We are made up of many cultures and groups, so what may work for more homogenous cultures isn’t going to work here. If you look at those cultures, it is also an issue of either no care at all, North Korea where the care is available but they don’t have antibiotics to give you, or the pay is not what USA docs are used to. I asked if people are willing to take a paycut and no one answered. Is any one willing to pay another 15-20% in taxes? That’s what I’ve had UK & others tell me it costs them.

      Again, look at the questions asked and all the issues not brought up. You’ll see that there are no answers. I’ve yet to see buy in from everyone in terms of practices, hospitals, patients, taxpayers, who end up having to pay (and would lose basically a step or so down the class ladder) for the benefit. This is not a small 5-10 million people country where most everyone has the same values. You can’t apply other countries to America all the time, and we really shouldn’t be applying American things to others all the time. Look at Israel: the Haredi are really putting a drag on the nation.

      There is no reason someone can’t take the time off without pay to do it. It is not like someone is on welfare. In ob/gyn it is automatically assumed if you are not on birth control (and depending on the size of the female, etc.) that you are looking to get pregnant. You can’t tell me someone who went through the whole of college, med school, residency, etc. doesn’t know or guess the consequences of the choices made at this time. Yes, there are choices. When you know the facts, and the emotional response to the questions, or the lack thereof, it is dead obvious someone doesn’t want to look at themselves and take responsibility for what was done.

      That is why I suggest taking this post, all the comments, and allow the bosses to see it, and the patients. Those are your judges, not others in the same position. They are the ones judging you and paying you.

      • i feel like male colleagues would make a bigger fuss over wanting leave if men were pushing children out of their bodies and lactating. Obviously not happening. Yet there are definitely men who want or have kids–not just their female significant other’s fault. Perhaps men who have children should split leave with their female counterpart? That would change the dynamic in the workplace. And then more childless men can tell men with children that their time off is a burden. But also unlikely to happen. Anyways–a few things to keep in mind for those against maternity leave. Not every pregnancy is or can be planned–unless you’re suggesting all working women of child-bearing age who are sexually active with men use tubal ligation as means of contraception. Which is unlikely. So it’s really not anyone’s fault that small humans exist. Leading to–if you are going to discourage maternity leave especially paid leave, women have to leave the workforce. For the spawn they and their males create. This seems pretty unfair. But even if that is the necessary suggestion, half of the world’s population will feel they are not represented and cannot relate to their doctors. I can’t tell you how many women flock to female professionals. So the anticipated polls of patients may reveal not only complaints that their female doctor is inadequate for taking maternity leave or whatever, but may give surprises like “my doctor understands me cos she went thru a lot of crap I went thru”. There’s a boy’s club in the work force, we are all aware. But not all patients want a high powered man as their doctor–sometimes they just want a woman to take care of their hypertension as they shoot the shit about their lives with a common underlying thread of balancing work, kids, significant other, errands, not wanting to shave their legs and pits for their physical or for their delivery etc. So a couple months of medical training being missed does not equate to being an incompetent doctor. It might just mean that the doctor lived a life with experience as a patient and can help their patient that much better.

  14. If trauma surgeons are a national shortage, then objectively you have bargaining power. I’m sure someone of your experience would be well appreciated at another academic hospital, and I’m sure a community hospital. I know surgical services are notoriously tough intrinsically, but I would at least look around to see what other options may be available. There are consequences for administrations treating people so poorly. You’re never stuck! –a fellow MD

  15. Pingback: Why male physicians should care about maternity leave | Srraa!

  16. I’ve seen a lot of nurses have to quit breastfeeding sooner than they wanted to because even though we are supposedly mandated lunch and pumping breaks, it doesn’t mean we get them! It’s truly appalling that healthcare hasn’t done the right thing for women.

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