13 Feb Paid Family and Childbearing Leave Policies at Top US Medical Schools Found Lacking
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christina Mangurian, MD, MAS
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Vice Chair for Diversity, Department of Psychiatry
UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Director, UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellowship at ZSFG
Core Faculty, UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: We examined paid family and childbearing leave policies at top-10 medical schools across the US. Despite recommendation from national medical societies for 12 weeks paid childbearing leave because of the benefits to both infant and mother, the average leave at these top schools of medicine was only around 8 weeks. In addition, most policies are very difficult to understand, and are at the discretion of departmental leadership – both of which put women at a disadvantage at getting leave they deserve. Additionally, family leave was only available to the parent that identifies as the “primary caregiver” at five universities, disallowing cooperative parenting.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Family and childbearing leave policies at major schools of medicine in the United States are in need of improvement. We were surprised to find such variability in University policies — even among top schools who presumably compete for the same top talent. Given how much leave policies impact a parent’s desire and ability to stay in the workforce, we would hope to see clearer, evidence-based policies that match global standards.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: A major limitation of this study is that we only examined leave policies at top-ten academic institutions. It would be important to replicate the study in all medical schools across the country, and determine whether these policies are associated with retention of women faculty.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: 12 weeks of paid leave is critical for the physical and mental well-being of parents and children, and is a great benchmark to aim for at all academic medicine insiitutions. Given recent findings that these policies retain women in academia—it makes sense good business sense, too. The leave policies available at these schools were either too short, too confusing, or at the discretion of a supervisor. We are trying to advocate for clearly defined 12 week minimum paid leave all academic medical centers across the country, for the entire spectrum of parents, including mothers, fathers, same-sex couples and adoptive parents.
UCSF—our school of medicine—recently doubled its paid childbearing leave policy from 6 to 12 weeks (effective July 2019). This should happen everywhere.
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