Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

When the Obstetrician Gets Pregnant

Suzanne Trupin

At age 27 I was a chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology and about to have a baby. When I told one of my colleagues that I was pregnant, he put his arm around me and asked, "Do you know what is worse than having a doctor's wife as a patient?" When I shook my head, he smiled and said, "Having a doctor." He was right.

Physicians in general are troublesome, even high risk patients. They tend to think they don't need early consultations because they know it all. They dislike being tested because they know tests are uncomfortable and the results can be misleading. And they tend to take care of everyone and everything before themselves.

For the same reasons obstetricians can make some of the worst expectant mothers--and resident obstetricians the worst of the worst. To begin with, medical knowledge can heighten rather than calm an expectant mother's fears. And a resident's rigorous schedule can leave little time for the necessary rest.

If that were not enough, program directors and male residents do not always smile upon the pregnant female resident. Not too long ago, the director of one famous residency program bluntly said that he found it quite inconsiderate for a woman in training to get pregnant.

So the obstacles abound. But they do not diminish the joy of bringing a child into the world. Also, while bearing a child--not to mention raising it--interrupts a career, it can make a female obstetrician a more sensitive, more understanding and more effective doctor.

Simply finding the time to get pregnant presents problems for a resident. Be prepared to be on call for at least three cycles of ovulation. And by the time the fourth cycle rolls around, you will be so neurotic you probably won't ovulate at all.

-131-

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