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Pregnancy Leave Intern Year

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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #95896 by Artydoc
I was curious what types of arrangements people have made for pregnancy leave during their intern year, and if they had to make up time. I'm currently six weeks pregnant and am in a medical prelim year. I recently told my chief that I was expecting and was run down by HR today and told that I would only be allowed ten working days PTO for after I deliver, although I could take more off and have to make it up, which would cut into my advanced program and cause possible problems there. This strikes me as borderline putative. This is a program that offers 15 days vacation taken during electives, 12 sick days, and 3 personal days, and apparently I am not allowed to use any of that for maternity leave so I will be sitting at home on unwanted and unneeded vacation knowing that in a few months I will be leaving a two week old infant at home to return to work, still bleeding, and likely not having slept more than a couple hours at a stretch for the last 14 days after giving birth. Frankly, I'm livid. Am I just being a whiny wimp, or does this in fact strike anyone as unreasonable, and worth giving push back on? Ideally I was hoping to use the three weeks of vacation time plus potentially an additional week sick leave, which would still not have me working any fewer days than most of the other interns over the course of the year. Thanks for the feedback!
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Artydoc.

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4 years 7 months ago #95897 by ctenj
I'm sorry to hear about your situation... I can't really comment on maternity leave persay, but when I delivered, my husband (who was a resident at the time) got one "free" day. Actually, the free day was his one sick day that he got for the year (I know, generous, right?)... He took a second day off for both of our kids' births and ended up doing an extra Saturday call to make it up. That said, since we knew before the schedule was made for the year approximately when we were expecting our baby both times, he was able to schedule vacation for slightly after I was expecting to deliver and so while we were missing him for ~Day 2-8 or so after birth, he then was home for 2 weeks with us.

Personally, if I were you, I'd push back. I agree that the policy seems unreasonable. It's understandable if you were missing more days than the rest of the interns, that you'd have to make them up, but sounds pretty ridiculous that you couldn't use your vacation time for this unless there are scheduling issues (schedule already made and unable to swap things around... although would they be open to you doing a one-to-one swap with whoever is on vacation those weeks?). Did they offer any explanation for their policy?

And just a thought... As much as I know you'd want to spend as much time as possible with your newborn, I personally would make sure I had quite a bit of sick time on the other end... Kids get sick... a lot, which means that their parents get sick... a lot :) Not sure what your plans are for childcare, but especially if you're planning to send to daycare, just beware. We've had several GI bugs, a couple rounds of conjunctivitis, strep throat, plus all of the normal ear infections/colds this year.

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4 years 7 months ago #95898 by sahmd
Yes, that seems unreasonable...but then many things about internship are unreasonable, unfortunately. I hope there is a way that you can switch things around to have a bigger chunk of time for maternity leave. I wonder if you could also talk with your advanced program about what might happen if you had to make up time at your internship. Maybe it could be arranged during vacation time at the advanced program. I hope that both programs can be flexible about this, especially because babies are often born at times other than their due dates.

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4 years 7 months ago #95899 by tr_
Two weeks maternity leave is totally unreasonable; unfortunately I don't think your program's position is that unusual.

The refusal to let you use vacation time for mat leave is irritating, but presumably the vacation schedules have already been set for the year, to coincide with electives. I can see the administration not wanting to upend everyone else's schedule to accommodate you. If you can negotiate a swap as ctenj suggested you may be in a better position to request this.

And I think it is quite standard to have to make up maternity leave time at the end of residency. This is due to ACGME requirements for number of hours spent in training, Everyone I know who took maternity leave during residency (including myself, twice) made up the time at the end. I would advise you to contact your advanced program now and ask them about their policy for people who are delayed in their prelim year. This is a common issue and presumably they will have faced it before. See if they will let you delay your start time, or else defer it to the following year.

Personally I'd advocate for the deferral as even a 4- or 6-week maternity leave is still bordering on a human-rights violation IMO. I mean, a 4- or 6-week-old doesn't need any less care than a 2-week-old, and they mostly don't sleep any better either. I almost quit residency after my first 8-week maternity leave (luckily my fabulous program allowed me to negotiate a reduced schedule instead).

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4 years 7 months ago #95900 by orthomomma
You will need to look at your specialty's board to determine what is allowed--for example, in internal medicine, you can miss up to 4 weeks each year (including vacation) and that year still counts towards graduation. The program director has discretion over an additional one month accumulated over the three years of residency.

Ortho (and general surgery I believe) allow six weeks of leave each year for all residents (including vacation).

Six weeks is really inhumane for maternity leave, but if you don't want to add time on to the end, then you're stuck with the rules set up by the board. You should hold your program to the maximum allowed by your specialty board. I have a feeling it's more than two weeks.

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4 years 7 months ago #95910 by lolaMD
Maternity leave during intern year is difficult, in a large part due to not having collected significant leave time (many programs have roll-over sick days during residency) and many specialties front-load intern year / second year with the work-heavy rotations that limit days you can take leave (as you describe). Unfortunately, most programs are pretty limited in options to provide earlier in training vs later in residency. But, I agree with the other posters two weeks is unreasonable! It seems pretty ridiculous to me that your program would not work with you to help you tie your available leave time to your maternity leave. As long as you are giving your program some significant notice, rearranging your schedule to switch rotations to an elective around delivery time may be a way to go. Are there other interns you could talk to and try to switch rotations with? If you present your residency with an option for a switch, maybe they would be more flexible? Could you front-load some of the heavier rotations?

I had my first child at the end of intern year, which was challenging but doable with negotiations with my Psychiatry program. I had to front-load a ton of call, rework rotations, and opted for extending my training time by one month in return for an extra 5 weeks of maternity leave. It was worth it! I will still get to sit for my boards at the end of this year with the end-date that my program helped me with. I ended up with 8.5 weeks (April delivery) with saving up all vacation and sick days in addition to the extension. I also worked with family to stay and give support right after my maternity leave, which helped with the still limited maternity leave and transition went back to a difficult inpatient rotation.

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