Skip to main content

Family Leave and Return-to-Work Experiences of Physician Mothers

Published on: Jan 13, 2020


A new JAMA Network Open Original Investigation by Shannon B. Juengst, PhD; Alexa Royston, DO; and Isabel Huang, MD explores the family leave and return-to-work experiences of physician mothers. In this cross-sectional survey, 844 physician mothers across multiple subspecialties reported positive and negative experiences associated with taking leave, returning to work, breastfeeding or breast milk pumping, childcare, perceived discrimination, and important supportive factors. This study’s findings suggest that physicians taking maternity leave experience unique challenges that require creative solutions, the seeds of which can be found in the lived experiences of women in medicine captured in the present study.

With the substantial increase in the proportion of women graduating from medical school, factors surrounding family leave require careful attention. Although many circumstances and experiences are unique to the training setting and specialty, a nationwide representation of physician mothers across all disciplines and all levels of training may reveal common themes and experiences among them, enable comparison across training setting and subspecialties, and identify best practices for supporting physician mothers throughout their careers.

For the full study go to JAMA Network Open Published: October 11, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13054