Dr. Joy Alvarado, an alumna of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, recently published a column with the Association of Women Surgeons’ exploring issues associated with balancing pregnancy with a surgical residency. In the piece, Dr. Alvarado wonders how she would manage a pregnancy during her surgical residency were she to become pregnant during this time. She also underscores the importance of broadly considering the challenges of a pregnancy during a surgical residency with the goal of increasing the number of women in surgery.
She references a 2018 study that surveyed 347 general surgery residents who had been pregnant during residency. Their average age was 30.5 years, and all of them completed residency in 2007 or later. Only 34.9 percent of them stated that their programs had established maternity leave policies, and 72 percent perceived the duration of their maternity leave to be inadequate. 63.6 percent were concerned that their work schedule adversely affected their health or the health of their unborn child. Nearly 40 percent reported that they strongly considered leaving surgical residency, and nearly 30 percent indicated they would discourage female medical students from a surgical career, “specifically because of the difficulties of balancing pregnancy and motherhood with training.”
Dr. Alvarado writes that she often hears that women are advised to “make it work.” She urges her colleagues to consider these challenges as the field tries to increase the number of women in surgery.
Dr. Alvarado earned a Master of Health Science from the Bloomberg School in 2012. She is a fourth year medical student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 03