Does Having Children Make Surgical Residents Quit?


Erin Brown, MD General Surgery PGY6 UC Davis Medical Interview with:
Erin Brown, MD
General Surgery PGY6
UC Davis Medical Center

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Brown: This study sought to determine with childrearing during training put residents at increased risk of quiting.  We looked at both male and female surgical residents who chose to have children during residency and found that residents having children during training were not more likely to quit than those who did not have children.  We also found that there childrearing had no negative impact on surgical training based on total surgical case numbers, board pass rates, and annual exam scores.  Main findings of the study were that neither female gender nor childrearing during training were associated with residents quitting.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Brown: Surprisingly, we found that the single predictor of quitting was being single. It’s possible that the intensity involved in becoming a surgeon is harder to manage without the support of a partner.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Brown: The prevalence of residents having children during residency is increasing, and this study shows that these residents are not more likely to quit and are just as capable as those who do not have children.  It will be crucial for residency programs to find solutions to accommodate leave and support residents’ decisions regarding childrearing during training.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Brown: We are in the process of compiling data from other surgical residency programs to see if these results are applicable to other programs across the country.


Brown EG, Galante JM, Keller BA, Braxton J, Farmer DL. Pregnancy-Related Attrition in General Surgery. JAMA Surg. Published online July 16, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.1227.