December 13, 2018

Medical training or a family? Residents, training programs seek balance

As residency programs struggle to balance the well-being of trainees and the need to provide ample training, a new study finds inconsistent parental leave policies

Parental leave graphic

A new analysis finds striking inconsistency in parental leave policies at the nation’s top medical residency programs, illustrating the enormous challenge these programs face balancing training the next generation of doctors and supporting trainees’ personal and family needs.

On the one hand: Hospitals depend on the clinical care their residents provide. Extended family leaves can affect staffing, as well as residents’ ability to build competency.

On the other hand: New parents have physical and emotional needs, and aspiring doctors should not have to delay having children beyond their peak years of fertility.

“Becoming a doctor includes a long period of training and service,” says Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan, and the study’s co-senior author. “At the same time, we are seeing growing attention in medicine to the integration of career and family.

"It’s extraordinarily complicated and challenging to balance the competing demands here.”

Read more about this study in the Michigan Health Lab.