Moms who are pediatricians have many of the same issues that other working mothers face. Pediatrics is one physician specialty that is dominated by women, and likely to be more so in the future, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP. The AAP found that 56.6 percent of working pediatricians were female in 2010, while 68.9 percent of pediatric residents were female. Over half of all pediatricians have children at home, according to the AAP, so there are plenty of pediatricians who are working moms.
Although the data was not sorted by gender, the AAP reported 43 percent of pediatricians were happy with the amount of time they spent with their children in 2003. In contrast, 88 percent were happy with their patient relationships and 82 percent satisfied with their medical practices. Pediatricians who are female are more likely to work part-time, and those who worked part-time said they were more satisfied with the amount of time they had with their children and their balance of work and family life.
One issue for pediatricians who are female is the timing of education and childbearing. Although it has become more common for women to have their children in their 30s, from a biological standpoint, a woman in her 20s is more likely to conceive easily. A pediatrician often goes from high school to college, medical school and residency during her 20s – adding one or more pregnancies to the mix of long hours and the time needed for study can make for a very tired Doctor Mom.
If you want to mix motherhood with the practice of pediatrics, an article in the February 2006 issue of “Pediatrics” has some specific recommendations. Spend plenty of time discussing and planning how you will meld your career in medicine with being a mother. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Spend whatever it takes to assure you have reliable, high-quality child care. Avoid perfectionism, and learn to delegate. Make sure you have time for play, exercise and hobbies.
Make Changes if Necessary
When you are a working mother, it’s normal to struggle with work-life balance. Obviously, you can’t send the children back to the store, but you might want to work part-time when they are small. If you find day care isn’t working well because of your commute or the hours the facility is open, consider hiring a nanny. Band together with other mothers in health care and get 24-hour day child care at your hospital. If your practice requires that you take hospital emergency calls, see if you can negotiate fewer hours while the children are little, or if you can limit your practice to office work. Creative schedule solutions can help you to balance the twin demands of medicine and motherhood.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Periodic Survey #54 Pediatricians' Personal Health Behaviors, Sense of Work-Family Balance and Counseling Patients on Lifestyle/Self-care Issues
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Balancing Work and Personal Life Perceptions of Part-time and Full-time Pediatricians
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Pediatrician Surveys
- Pediatrics: Pediatricians Leading the Way Integrating a Career and a Family/Personal Life over the Life Cycle
- MomMD: Career and Life Satisfaction of Women Physicians - MomMD Women in Medicine Survey Results
- Pediatrics: Women in Pediatrics Recommendations for the Future
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.