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Invited Critique
June 2001

Childbearing and Child Care in Surgery—Invited Critique

Arch Surg. 2001;136(6):655. doi:10.1001/archsurg.136.6.655

As a woman who has completed 7 years of general surgical training and had 2 children during this time, I appreciate this informative study by Dr Mayer. Even though the numbers are small and limited to one institution, this information is an important foundation for further research and discussion. The comparisons made with Fortune 500 companies and the survey thereof are critical to the content of the article and are to be commended. It is clear from her article that most of the women physicians studied chose to have children after completing residency training. However, men and women physicians found that postponing childbearing until residency completion did not change their choice of child care or increase their satisfaction with child care arrangements. Eighty percent of surgeons were dissatisfied with their child care arrangements. This dissatisfaction may not be because of substandard child care, but rather because these surgeons desire to spend more time with their children. While having child care facilities at the work place would allow parents to spend more time with their children during work hours, it is only an initial step in addressing child care issues for female surgeons. The need to nurse my child would require 20 to 40 minutes, 3 times a day, during a 10- or 11-hour day. This may be permissible to a Fortune 500 business person; however, clinics do not stop and operations cannot be put on hold for child care. Extending maternity leave (perhaps to 24 weeks as the Danish people have done) well into infancy may address this child care issue better than providing child care at the hospital.