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June 5, 1991

A Pregnant Surgical Resident? Oh My!

JAMA. 1991;265(21):2859-2860. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460210105040

Women currently make up 39% of US medical school applicants and 34% of graduates.1 Almost all graduates enter residency programs, but, until recently, women infrequently chose surgical careers. This has changed dramatically in recent years; in 1982, 875 surgical residents were women, but in 1990, 3709 were women, and this number is increasing each year.2 Nearly half of the residents in obstetrics and approximately 14% of general surgical residents are women, who are enrolled in programs varying in length from 4 years (basic obstetrics) to 9 years (academic programs in pediatric, thoracic, or vascular surgery). The average age of medical school graduates is 28 years3; a typical chief surgical resident is 32 years old. Residencies, especially the lengthy surgical programs, span a vital portion of prime childbearing years for all of these women. Pregnancy during residency, even a surgical residency, can and should be anticipated. What are