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|Surgery & parenthood: can we navigate the divide?
|Ballarat Health Services 2018 Annual Research Symposium: research partnerships for population, people and patients; celebrating our research partnerships with the community in the Grampians region
|Background Significant barriers exist to surgeons being good parents and parents being good surgeons, and these barriers are heightened for women. Objectives/Aims This research aims to examine how parenthood fits within the current surgical workforce, to identify barriers to participation and practical solutions to overcome these. Method An online survey of surgeons and trainees was conducted in 2016 to investigate family structures, planning and timing of children, fertility treatment, parental leave, childcare, experiences of role models and discrimination. Qualitative data were collected about barriers and enablers to navigating surgery and parenthood. Interim analysis of these responses were used to inform six semi-structured focus groups. Transcripts were thematically analysed. Results There were 261 respondents to the survey (response rate 3.1% (261/8493)), with females responding at a 13.5-fold greater rate than men. Female surgeons had their first child at a later age than men (mean 34.1 vs 30.9 years, p<0.0001), and had less children (mean 1.9 vs 2.7, p<0.0001). Qualitative data demonstrated four key themes: perceptions, organisational structure, practical issues, and translating words into actions Implications/Outcomes for Planned Research Project The perception of what it means to be a surgeon and a parent varied by gender, creating an obstacle for role-change and recruitment. Current organisational structures including rigid training systems, lack of policy for flexible training, pro rata accreditation of training experience, or transferability of parental leave all prevent modernisation of the surgical profession. Whilst not an employer of trainees, RACS and the specialty training boards are in a position to ensure the working conditions of their trainees are fair and reasonable, do not discriminate on the basis of gender or parental responsibilities and are compliant with workplace legislation. Key recommendations from this work include: Establishing terms of reference for accreditation of pro rata training; Providing stand-alone part-time positions for every specialty; Ensuring access to workplace parental leave provisions that are transferable despite mandated relocation; Mandating hospitals provide equivalent cover for parental leave; Developing return-to-work programs; Pre-booking on-site hospital childcare positions to allow access for trainees on rotation; Offering parents rooms and childcare facilities at conferences; Developing fee structures for surgeons or trainees on parental leave or employed part-time. Final Thoughts The verbal presentation of this work has been made relevant to a number of specialities within BHS, and will be tailored to a local audience.
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