ams pregnancy parenting handbook the answer to this question is an individual one. while there is no

Download AMS Pregnancy Parenting Handbook The answer to this question is an individual one. While there is no

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  • Acknowledgements

    Thank you to Dr. Jordan White, whose compassionate mentorship and guidance made this handbook possible. Thank you to Jeannette Gonzales Wright for the creation of the handbook cover, and to Kira Neel and many other students for critical review of the handbook. Lastly, thank you to the Alpert Medical School administrators in the Office of Student Affairs, the

    Office of Medical Education, the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and the Office of Records and Registration, who graciously shared the

    knowledge contained within this book.

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    1. Introduction 3

    2. Section I: Pre-Baby

    a. Planning for a Baby: Is there a Right Time? 4

    b. Financing Parenthood 7

    3. Section II: Pregnancy

    a. Pregnancy and Parenthood in Medical School: Know Your Rights 10

    b. Structuring Maternity/Paternity Leave in Medical School 12

    c. Pregnancy Self Care during Medical School 15

    4. Section III: Parenthood

    a. Lactation in Medical School 18

    b. Juggling Student and Parenthood Responsibilities 20

    5. Local Resources 22

    6. Suggested Reading 25

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    Becoming a parent can be simultaneously one of the most joyful and challenging experiences that life has to offer. Caring for a child while meeting the many demands of medical education is a distinctly difficult task, but one that is very possible with support and guidance. This handbook will clarify the Alpert Medical School (AMS) options for leave, accommodations, and parenting resources. It will present the many things to think about when planning for medical school with a baby. It will also help students who are deciding whether and when to expand their family to understand the process behind doing so during medical school. This is not meant to be a guide to general pregnancy and childcare, but is rather a handbook for navigating the unique challenges of being both a parent and a medical student. The majority of this handbook is targeted towards students who are planning for parenthood. Yet not all situations can be planned for. Indeed, parenting is all about constant change and uncertainty. Moreover, each individual student and family is unique and faces their own challenges. Similarly, given the rapid and cumulative nature of the AMS curriculum, each student will need to consider the unique accommodations available to them depending on the timing of their baby’s arrival. This handbook will attempt to provide general information for a broad range of situations while presenting further resources for individual circumstances. It is meant to enhance, but not replace, meaningful conversations with administrators and other supportive staff in the medical school. Please note that while parts of this handbook apply specifically to students who are pregnant or delivering a child given the complex physical and emotional nature of these experiences, most of the handbook pertains to parents of all gender identities as well as those who may be considering adopting a child. We hope that this guide will answer many questions about parenting during medical school, and will help you feel supported in your family’s unique journey. If you have any suggestions for revisions to the handbook, please contact Dr. Jordan White, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, at

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    Planning for a Baby: Is There a Right Time?

    The answer to this question is an individual one. While there is no one best time to enter into parenthood, there might be a good time for you. Sections I through III will highlight some considerations to take into account when planning for a child at any stage in your medical education and training. Each of these components will be addressed further within the handbook. Sections IV and V address commonly considered best times in the medical school curriculum for having a child with and without extending training time. These may not be the best times for you, or the considerations discussed here might not be important to you. While recognizing that each decision is highly individual, and that planning is often not possible, this section presents some considerations for making these decisions during medical school.

    I. Extending Training Time Given the intensity and nature of the medical school curriculum, the school is usually unable to accommodate a similar parental leave to what may be offered in the workforce. There are certain times during training when there is less flexibility for a time away, meaning that any break from classes would need to become an entire year. Given the variability in pregnancy timing within the curriculum, it is not possible to outline here which exact points in the curriculum would be inflexible for a shorter duration of time away. If timing is a concern for you, consider seeking more specific advice from Dr. Jordan White, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. For students who want to take some time away but do not wish to extend their training by an additional year, creative timing will be necessary. There are also options that allow for flexible time away from the curriculum while completing a scholarly project. See “Structuring Maternity/Paternity Leave in Medical School” on page 12 and below sections IV through V for more information.

    II. Flexible Accommodations During medical school, leave can easily be taken for an extended period of time (one or more years), which is typically not possible during residency or as a practicing physician. In residency or as a practicing physician, flexible options for family leave vary considerably depending on the position.

    III. Work-Life Balance Some new parents find that having a baby shifts their priorities towards finding work- life balance and spending time with their child. From a medical student perspective, this can be a positive force in shaping future goals and choosing a specialty or residency that aligns with your values. Yet medical school is also the beginning of many years of long hours spent in the hospital away from family, often with little

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    control over scheduling and hours. In this way, having children at the end of residency or as a practicing physician may have the advantage of increased scheduling autonomy.

    IV. Best Times in Medical School: Without Extending Training Time The first best time to have a baby in medical school without taking additional time away is during the summer between the first and second year. There are currently ten weeks between the end of the first year and the beginning of the second year of school, allowing for a break from school responsibilities. Of course, this would require excellent timing, which babies do not often have. The next best time is during the fourth year. The fourth-year curriculum has some built-in flexibility with few requirements (sub-internships, interviews, Step 2, and electives). It is possible to take a break (i.e. six weeks) without extending training time. If you are considering this option, speak with Jordan White, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, in January of the second year when planning curricular options for the clinical years. When planning to have a baby during the clinical years, there are some intersections between the curriculum and the more challenging periods of pregnancy to take into account. Such periods may include morning sickness and fatigue in the first trimester, fatigue and difficulty standing for long periods in the third trimester, appearing very pregnant in the third trimester, and postpartum stress or depression. It may be a good idea to determine your top priorities for the clinical years, consider how pregnancy or parenting may impact those priorities, and discuss timing or additional support that can help you meet your goals. In this section, the fourth-year schedule is assumed to consist of sub-internships and important electives during the summer, interviews in the late fall and early winter, and more flexible time for electives in the spring. Students who plan to be pregnant or parenting in the clinical years may want to consider the timing of these components. One option is to have the baby during elective or vacation time in the spring. However, if you hope to give birth after interview season, consider the issues of travelling in the third trimester, appearing very pregnant during interviews, and the potential for pre-term birth during interview season. Also, if planning to have a baby later in the spring, consider the stress of potentially moving your family during the first weeks or months of the postpartum period, and beginning the most demanding year of residency with a new baby. Similarly, if planning to give birth before interview season, you may be in the exhausting third trimester of pregnancy during your important sub-internships. Some parents have had their babies before interview season, and then brought the baby (and a caretaker travelling with them) during interviews. But it is hard to know how stressed or sleep deprived or prepared for interviewing you will be during that time.

    V. Best Times in Medical School: With Extended Training Time

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    Leave can be taken at any time, either as a Leave of Absence (LOA) or through the Academic Scholar Program (ASP). For more information on leave options, see


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