Hi Dr. Julius,
I have a few questions for you about pregnancy during radiology residency that I wanted to know.
Is pregnancy in radiology residency doable?
Are programs supportive of students who expand their family during residency?
Are there radiation exposures that I would need to avoid in a diagnostic radiology residency?
Is there a typical year of residency easier to have a baby than others?
With radiology being a male-dominated specialty does this cause strife between residents during maternity leave? (Is there maternity leave?)
How do you decide if a program is family friendly and future-family friendly?
Hi future radiologist,
I have to say I have been getting some great questions from my audience and yours is no exception!
So, let’s start from the beginning… Is radiology residency doable for a pregnant resident? My quick answer is undoubtedly yes. Many have done it before.
But, let me give you a bit of the more detailed response to your inquiry. It’s not whether it’s doable, the question is, do you want to do it at this point in your life? By no means is it a cake walk.
So, what changes? Typically, many pregnant residents will lay off the fluoroscopy and the interventions that involve ionizing radiation. And, depending on how your pregnancy goes, you may feel tired and nauseous at times. But, most get through the residency just fine.
And, of course, you are entitled to pregnancy leave which I believe is usually three months. Depending on how much time off you take, that may extend your residency a few months. Moreover, the additional time can delay the timing of your fellowship.
Then, finally, you will probably need some help with the kids once you do restart your residency after the pregnancy.
Is it easier or harder to have a baby during rads compared to others?
Comparing radiology to other residencies, I believe it is more doable than some and harder than others. Those long nights with a reversal of sleep schedule can be tough on typical residents let alone pregnant ones. The hospital will constantly bombard you with images with no time to sleep. Psychiatry and derm are some specialties that don’t have those tough calls. But then again you are practicing psychiatry and derm, not where I would want to be!
And, perhaps it is not as grueling as surgery. But, it all depends on what you want.
So, what year would be best to have a baby?
If I had to choose within the current system, I would have to say in most programs the 4th year (after you have passed your boards) would be the best time. It is the least demanding in most residencies (but not all!) Usually, you can fill it with mini-fellowships, electives, and less call shifts than other years (although some have 4th-year weighted call).
Does pregnancy cause resentment?
I will say the following; Whenever you have one person with different sets of requirements from the others, you will have some resentment. Call shifts will increase for your classmates in spurts. You will have to give them back afterward, so it eventually evens out.
But, in the end, this is a personal decision to make and regardless of what others think it is probably not best to put it off too long because of the increased risks of waiting too long.
Which residency should I choose for a possible pregnancy ?
So, if I were looking for a residency for my wife where she would have the best situation while pregnant, I would say, most critically, pick one near family members that can help out. Next, I would want to find one where the call might be a little bit lighter. Or, one that has a decent 4th year if that is when you want it. And finally, find a program director that you believe will be able to commiserate with and support you during residency.
I hope this answers some of your questions!
Barry Julius, MD