Parenthood and Medicine

The delicate balance between work and home can be a challenge, and not only during a pandemic.  Dr. Maria Kang, Dr. Alicia Power, and Dr. Daisy Dulay have been working to identify ways in which ‘family friendly’ considerations might be brought into the hospital work environment.  These are informed by a PHP Document, “Medicine and Motherhood” from 2010, as well as their own lived experience:

“In response to the generational change in both work culture and physician demographics, we have created this document to invite discussion and progressive movement within every medical department.

Below are statements that are meant to be used to facilitate discussion

  1. Both male and female parents are entitled to parental leave, free of harassment and undo stress.
  2. On-call duties and workload must be reviewed both pre-conception and during pregnancy.
  3. Throughout pregnancy, night shifts and on-call duties for pregnant physicians from 24 weeks gestation onwards should be reduced or eliminated.
    1. Provide pregnant physicians with opportunities to change work posture to avoid standing more than four hours at a stretch.
    2. Adjust work hours to allow for rest and proper nutrition.
    3. Ensure that pregnant residents and employees have at least two consecutive     days off every week and work no more than five days in a row.
  4. Arrange back-up coverage of all clinical duties of pregnant physicians from 36 weeks of gestation onward in the event of an early delivery.
  5. Minimize physicians’ exposure to potentially violent patients who may endanger the pregnancy.
  6. Reduce work activities for pregnant physicians in situations of high job fatigue, such as work weeks of 40 hours or more.
  7. Modify work conditions and allow pregnant physicians to opt out of work when:
    1. Infectious disease prophylactic measures are not deemed by an occupational health specialist to provide sufficient protection.
    2. Exposure to infectious diseases and the potential impact of treatment or post-exposure prophylaxis is determined to be unsafe for the mother or fetus.
  1. Be prepared to provide for situations where bed rest or other activity modifications are needed in higher risk pregnancies.
  2.  Ensure that practice partners, employers and program leaders are made aware in a timely fashion of medical conditions or complications of your pregnancy that require     accommodation or may lead to a premature delivery.
  3.  Eliminate physically strenuous work and heavy lifting, especially during the latter stages of pregnancy.
  4. Canadian labour law provides for maternity leave of up to one year.
  5. Create a workplace that is progressive in promoting benefits for women who combine medicine and motherhood such as facilitating part-time and shared practice models.
  6. Provide support, including private space and equipment and time for breastfeeding or the expression of milk by mothers.
  7.  Provide support to colleagues when they return to work after giving birth. Sometimes, when a colleague is no longer visibly pregnant, they are offered less support. Yet the demands of motherhood: sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and infant health concerns can be even more demanding than pregnancy.
  8.  Consider the recommendation of the Canadian Pediatric Society to maintain exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth for healthy, term infants.
  9.  Consider a graduated return to work and ‘keeping in touch’ mechanisms during leave.”

Other ideas? Post a comment.

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