Parental health in fellowship trainees: Fellows' satisfaction with current policies and interest in innovation

Womens Health (Lond). Jan-Dec 2020;16:1745506520949417. doi: 10.1177/1745506520949417.


Background: Parenthood during medical training is common and impacts trainee well-being. However, current graduate medical education parental health policies are often limited in scope. We explored current fellowship trainees' knowledge of/satisfaction with current policies as well as interest in potential changes/additions to existing policies.

Methods: Fellowship program directors/coordinators at a three-site academic institution were surveyed and information was collected from 2015 to 2019 regarding fellow demographics and parental health policies. We distributed an electronic survey to fellows containing Likert-type-scale questions rating knowledge/level of satisfaction with current parental health policies and interest in potential additions/modifications to current policies.

Results: Thirty-five of 47 (74%) fellowship programs responded. An average of 11% of female fellows and 15% of male fellows took parental leave during the study period. Three (9%) of the programs had at least one additional parental health policy beyond institutional graduate medical education policies. In the fellow survey, 175 of 609 fellows responded (28.7%), of which 84 (48.6%) were female. Although 89.1% agreed/strongly agreed that parental health is an important part of health and well-being for fellows, only 32% were satisfied/very satisfied with current policies (no significant sex-related differences). Fellows reported the following potential interventions as important/very important: 79.2% increased (paid) maternity leave (72.7% male, 86.7% female, p = 0.02), 78% increased (paid) paternity leave (76.4% male, 81.9% female, p = 0.37), 72.3% part-time return to work (60.2% male, 84.3% female, p = 0.0005), 63% coverage for workup/management of infertility (52.3% male, 74.7% female, p = 0.002), and 79.9% on-site day care (70.7% male, 89.2% female, p = 0.003).

Conclusions: Parental health includes multiple domains, not all of which are covered by current policies. Fellows feel that parental health is an important part of overall health and well-being, but most are not satisfied with current policies. Expanded access to parental leave and new policies (part-time return to work, infertility management, and on-site day care) are opportunities for innovation.

Keywords: breastfeeding; childcare; fertility; medical education; parental health.