Residents Week

With COVID-19 we see healthcare providers putting themselves in the frontlines for those who fall ill. Among these heroines and heroes are physicians-in-training. The AMA designates July 6-10 as Residents Week honoring the 136,000 women and men starting their residencies and fellowships. The best way to really honor them is to guarantee equity, equality, and no discrimination during their careers. 46% of residents are women in their child-bearing years. Yet, we have largely ignored this reality. A study of 15 training institutions revealed only 7 had paid resident maternity leave, averaging 5.7 weeks, even though the Academy of Pediatrics recommends up to 12 weeks of parental leave. A study of 24 medical specialty boards revealed only 11 gave parental leave as an acceptable reason for a resident to take leave and no board had a specific policy. During the rest of their careers these women may well be exposed to and be victims of sexual harassment. Few women, especially women of color, will advance to achieve major leadership positions. If we really want to honor these young women as they become our future caregivers, we should start by taking care of them when they bring the next generation into the world, guarantee a safe environment, and equal opportunity.

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