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L. J. Perry, J. I. Loewenstein, C. E. Kloek; Resident Maternity Leave in U.S. Ophthalmology Residency Training Programs. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5063.
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To survey ophthalmology residency program directors regarding maternity and paternity leave policies for residents, and to determine the effect of maternity leave on surgical training and co-resident schedules.
An online survey was developed using an online survey tool to assess policies and impacts of maternity and paternity leave during residency. The link to this survey was emailed to all program directors at accredited US ophthalmology residency programs.
A total of 27 survey responses were received, with responses about 142 female and 198 male ophthalmology residents in the US. In the 27 responding programs, a total of 57 female residents had taken maternity leave over the past 5 years. Of the programs that responded, all but one had maternity leave policies, with the majority of programs (42.3%) allowing 6 weeks (range 3 to 13 weeks) of leave before requiring residents to make up absent time. Surgical numbers were not significantly affected for 30.8% of residents taking maternity leave, were mildly affected (10% decrease in the number of cases) for 61.5% of residents, and were moderately affected (11-25% decrease) for 7.7% of residents. In 80.8% of programs, co-residents were asked to cover call for the resident on leave; however, in 19.2% of programs, the schedule was flexible enough, depending on the year of training, to allow some rotations to go uncovered for call (therefore no residents took extra call). Sentiments amongst co-residents ranged from resentment for covering extra call to complete support of residents taking maternity leave.
A significant number of female residents take maternity leave during ophthalmology residency training. Programs generally have written policies to guide maternity leave, but rules governing amount of time for leave, impact on surgical numbers, and co-resident attitudes towards maternity leave vary widely. Given number of female residents who take maternity leave during residency, as well as anticipated effect on co-residents, programs would benefit from flexibility in scheduling of rotations and call.
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