NonTradMed

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Hi, I have a question about having kids during residency. As my handler states, I am a non-traditional student. I am a 25 year old woman who will be applying to med school this fall. If all goes well, I will matriculate next year and will be 30 at graduation. Then there is the minimal three years of residency for primary care and 5+ years for specialties.

My worry is when will/should I have kids? I know residency requires long hours but I also know having your first kid after 35 is risky and might not be possible. So I don't want to delude myself into thinking I can wait until until i'm 40 and use fertility drugs etc....

I'm assuming most in this forum have survivied medical school and are in residency, I am hoping you guys can give me insights on this issue.

My mother is in a field where she constantly comes into contact with doctors and she says the docs she knows tells her it's perfectly doable with kids.

My parents both had demanding careers growing up so I have no qualms about working while my kids are young, I know that as long as the time spent with my kids above a threshold level, my kids won't feel neglected---and please no need to turn this into a SAHM vs working parent debate, my mom balanced a fulltime job with motherhood just fine, so I will follow her secret formula for success :D

So, what are your thoughts on motherhood and residency? I want people to list the negatives, and the positives of when to have kids, as well as suggestions of which residency are good for people with family. Parents, please reply! :)
 

Seaglass

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Lots of people do it, I will (as a man) and IMHO if you have and understanding and helpful spouse it should work out well. I will say that MOST that I know of have one parent staying home or with a low-pressure/time commitment job, but that's just my experience.

Casey
 

Leforte

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I've seen plenty of female residents have children during residency. Certain specialties, it is easier to accomodate than others. If you are choosing a surgical career (the decision of which is years away if you are a premed) then it would require timing... Maybe during research months or even a year off for research. We currently have a female ENT resident who had a baby, during her research time, and is back to work without missing any clinical time. It is doable.

There are also countless female IM, Peds, OB, EM, etc. residents who have children during residency. All that I've come across seem very content, and balanced. When on my Peds rotation, the PGY3 took time out every few hours to breast pump, as even though she was commited at the hospital, she was quite keen on breast milk for her baby. Clearly, there are ways if one is flexible and willing to compromise.
 
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roja

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I had my daughter 3 days after I finished my 3rd year surgery rotation.

(and yes, I am a woman. and you should always ask, not wether students have kids, but do female students have kids, because this is a totally different thing!)
 

NonTradMed

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Originally posted by roja
I had my daughter 3 days after I finished my 3rd year surgery rotation.

(and yes, I am a woman. and you should always ask, not wether students have kids, but do female students have kids, because this is a totally different thing!)

LOL, thanks, that's what I meant! ;)

Thanks for everyone's input so far!

So are there "optimal" times and issues associated with having kids during these busy times? How do some of you guys manage it? One poster state an understanding spouse, hopefully one with a undemanding job.....anything else? I guess I treat residency as an especially demanding job.....

Also, what are the problems associated with having kids during residency vs. during, say the 4th year of med school (which I heard is suppose to be the least busiest time)?

Once again, thanks for everyone's input thus far! :)
 

Seaglass

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Well actually my wife and I did the 4th year of med school thing and that seems to be working out pretty good so far. You just have to remember that children are a huge time committment, so you have to have someone that can spend the time. If they're in school then it's easier since they're out of the house most of the day, but when they're younger you really need someone to be the caretaker because in residency you are going to be working 80 hour weeks, be on call, etc.

Casey
 

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My wife and I had two kids by fourth year. She was a nurse, but then decided to have us take out student loans so that she could stay home.

The key is childcare. If you live by good family or hired childcare, then you're golden whether you're a medical student, resident, or staff physician. Otherwise, you're going to have a tough time.
 

NonTradMed

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Originally posted by Andrew_Doan
My wife and I had two kids by fourth year. She was a nurse, but then decided to have us take out student loans so that she could stay home.

The key is childcare. If you live by good family or hired childcare, then you're golden whether you're a medical student, resident, or staff physician. Otherwise, you're going to have a tough time.
Well actually my wife and I did the 4th year of med school thing and that seems to be working out pretty good so far. You just have to remember that children are a huge time committment, so you have to have someone that can spend the time. If they're in school then it's easier since they're out of the house most of the day, but when they're younger you really need someone to be the caretaker because in residency you are going to be working 80 hour weeks, be on call, etc.

Ok, so as long as I have someone who can help shoulder the burden of childcare, it'll be ok.....well, I guess I will have to see what happens. I hope I can find an understanding spouse LOL, if my parents live nearby that would be ideal. Maybe they will be in retirement by then and can help me. :)

I never thought about the oncall situation but I guess that's somethign a lot of docs have to deal with, in and out of residency. I'll take a look at mommd.com and see what thee ladies have say about this. Thanks for everyone's input!
 

roja

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Also look for a school that is family friendly. Some schools are 'old fashioned' adn really look down on it. Others treat no differently than if you had a cold. ;)

And child care is key. Doesn't have to be your spouse. You just need good child care options. And while children are a large time committment, they don't have to take all yoru time.

There was a woman in my class who had her fourth child right before starting and her fifth child during 2nd year. Her husband was military and gone alot but her mom lived with her and helped. Seh is a great mom, a great student and is a great resident


and there is no 'best' time to have a kid. Have one when you are ready. Everything else works out. I had mine during 3rd year (ended up being a perfect time for me and I am glad I spent my fourth year with my kid, not being pregnant. ) Feel free to PM me if you want more details or have questions.
 

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Easier to have them in medical school than residency. Try to avoid pregnancy during difficult third year rotations and avoid looking pregnant (i.e. don't get pregnant until September or October of your fourth year) while interviewing for residencies.

As far as residency, consider specialties that are more family friendly both in residency and afterward i.e. shiftwork(EM, Path, Rads, Anesthesia etc.)

Go to a residency with a progressive stance toward kids in residency. (While interviewing ask....how many children were born to residents last year?)

Make sure your pregnancies are planned, so the vacation you do have overlaps nicely with the short amount of time you get off post-partum.

Don't avoid medicine because you want to have kids, and don't avoid kids cause you want to do medicine. The two are certainly compatible, assuming you don't need 3 months of bedrest with each kid. Even then, the worst that usually happens is you have to spend another year in school or in a residency program.
 

fourthyear

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Just choose a specialty with very little on-call time. Radiology, dermatology - these are very competetive to get into, but tend to have the least call, evening, and weekend responsibilities. Even many programs in family practice have many months of residency when they don't take call and just do outpatient clinics or shift-work type night float call, so they're not away from home 30 hours straight like surgery residents.

But, if you love a demanding specialty like surgery, well - I guess go back to the plan of having family nearby to help a lot. I have a super-supportive husband, but he has a job that often takes him out of town or doing evening things, so I don't see how we can combine sugery resiency with his job - who would watch kids when I'm on call if he's not even in town that night? Someone to keep a baby overnight - sounds like a job for grandparents, unless you are willing/able to hire a live-in-nanny!

I think things are definitely changing for the better with more women in medicine. Specialties like Pediatrics, it seems like all those residents have kids, and most residents in peds are female these days. So it's almost encouraged in specialties like peds and family practice. A lot depends on the program you choose for residency too.
 

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I am a 2nd year ophtho resident and am 27 weeks pregnant. I planned this pregnancy so I could deliver by the end of the 2nd year and be non-pregnant during my senior year when I would have a harder time operating with a big ol belly. I also am on back-up call only, and from home so I am able to rest when I need to. Thankfully I have had a very benign pregnancy so far and never had problems like morning sickness which would interfere with my responsibilities.

I plan to nurse my son and my program is very understanding as there is private space in our clinic for me to pump and I can also pump in the locker room on surgery days. I know this is feasible because one of my senior residents last year was pregnant and delivered in Feb of her senior year and did just that. The chief ophtho resident at a nearby residency is due any day now, and she is doing great. Also had a planned pregnancy. But even if ophtho isn't your cup of tea, I know a medicine resident, a radiology resident, and an ob resident who are currently pregnant. I think the radiology resident and I are having an easier time of it than the other two. During my internship an FP resident was pregnant, and heck, one crazy intern made it through her internship pregnant, taking only 4 weeks off post partum. I can think of about 4 of my classmates who were pregnant during med school and did great.

I think the key (as others have mentioned) is having support from your spouse and/or extended family. My hubby is not in medicine and plenty of downtime to help once baby comes. It certainly doesn't hurt to have a supportive school/residency program either. You also need a sense of humor, as you might not end up pregnant when you want. Luckily I was able to get pregnant on the 2nd month trying, but others are not so lucky and will just be happy to have a baby ANYTIME regardless of interview schedules, vacation time, etc....

I know this isn't super helpful, but I just wanted you to know there are a lot of women docs and docs-to-be who are starting families. Medicine is my calling and my job but it is not my LIFE so I was not going to put my life on hold for my job. Women in other professions don't have to so why should we?
 

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We've had 2 female surgery residents have babies during non-research years since I've been here. One was a chief and the other a PGY-3. Since we can schedule our own vacations, they lumped all of their vacation time to coincide w/their deliveries and also took maternity leave. (Normally we're not supposed to take more than 1 week at a time, but obviously exceptions are made for special circumstances). Both of these women have major family support, though.
 
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