A Timely Problem: Parental Leave During Medical Training

Author Department

Medicine; Ob/Gyn

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Shifting demographics and concerns about burnout prevention merit a reexamination of existing structures and policies related to leaves of absence that may be necessary during medical training. In this Invited Commentary, the authors address the issue of parental leave for medical students and residents. Discussion about parental leave for these trainees is not new. Despite decades of dialogue, leave policies throughout the undergraduate and graduate medical education continuum lack standardization and are currently ill defined and inadequate. There are a number of barriers to implementation. These include stigma, financial concerns, workforce and duty hour challenges, and the historically rigid timeline for progression from one stage of medical training to the next. Potential solutions include parent-friendly curricular innovations, competency-based medical education, and provision of short-term disability insurance. Most important, adopting more flexible approaches to graduation requirements and specialty board examination eligibility must be addressed at the national level. The authors identify cultural and practical challenges to standardizing parental leave options across the medical education continuum and issue a call to action for implementing potential solutions.