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The surgical residency baby boom: changing patterns of childbearing during residency over a 30-year span.

  • Author(s): Smith, Caitlin
  • Galante, Joseph M
  • Pierce, Jonathan L
  • Scherer, Lynette A
  • et al.

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BACKGROUND: Birthrates during surgical residency appear to be rising. One assumption is that this is due to changes in the structure of surgical residencies. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of our study was to explore whether an increase in birthrates has occurred and the reasons for this. METHODS: We conducted an anonymous survey of current residents and alumni from 1976 to 2009 at a single university-based surgery training program. RESULTS: Alumni (46 of 116) and current residents (38 of 51) were surveyed, and our response rate was approximately 50% (84 of 167). Respondents were grouped into cohorts based on their residency start year. The early cohort consisted of residents starting residency between 1976 and 1999, and the late cohort consisted of residents starting residency between 2000 and 2009. The percentage of male residents with children during residency training was similar for the early and late cohorts (34% [10 of 29] versus 41% [9 of 22]). For female residents, there was a substantial increase in childbearing for the late cohort (7% [1 of 15] versus 35% [6 of 18]). Fifty-two percent (44 of 84) of the respondents who had children during residency reported that work hours and schedule had a negative effect on their decision to have children. Most respondents reported that availability or cost of child care, impact on residency, support from the program, increased length of training, or availability of family leave did not factor as concerns. CONCLUSIONS: Childbearing during residency has increased in female residents in our study. Surgical residency programs may need to accommodate this change if they want to continue to recruit and retain talented residents.

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