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Does Parenting During Residency Impact Career Goals?

November 30, 2021

Given that the majority of active pediatricians (64.3%) in the US are women, parenting during training has significant implications for career goals and the future pediatric workforce.1 There is growing recognition of the importance of family-friendly policies, such as parental leave and lactation space, during residency and beyond to support well-being,2 especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, less well known are the availability of these family-friendly policies during residency and what impact parenting during residency has on career goals.

This week in Pediatrics, we are early releasing an article by Dr. Weston T. Powell at the University of Washington and colleagues at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) entitled, “Parenthood, Parental Benefits, and Career Goals among Pediatric Residents: 2008 and 2019” (10.1542/peds.2021-052931).

The authors evaluate the national AAP survey of 1,021 graduating pediatrics residents in 2008 and 2019 to explore parental benefits available during residency, the association of parenthood and gender with preferred post-training position characteristics, limitations in the selection of post-training positions, and subspecialty career goals.

Residents were less likely to report having children or having available parental leave in 2019 compared to 2008, but more likely to report lactation space availability. Most residents reported family-friendly characteristics as very important in choosing post-training positions, although women were more likely to report that family situation limited selection of post-training positions. Parenthood was not associated with subspecialty career goals, but women were less likely to report subspecialty career goals than men were. 

Despite the recent AAP Policy Statement on parental leave during training,2 this study highlights that opportunities remain for residency programs to implement and increase awareness about policies that support parenting residents during training. Furthermore, as most early career pediatricians are women and parents, health care institutions and programs that recruit pediatric graduates should consider offering family-friendly benefits.

Take a look at this article. What can you take from it and apply to your own practice to support early career parenting pediatricians?


  1. Association of American Medical Colleges. Active Physicians by Sex and Specialty, 2019. 2020 Physician Specialty Data Report. Published 2020. Accessed October 26, 2021.
  2. Section on Medical Students R, Fellowship T, Committee on Early C. Parental leave for residents and pediatric training programs. Pediatrics. 2013;131(2):387-390.
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