Breastfeeding Support for Lactating Urologists
Caitlyn Desir, MD, Sanchita Bose, MD.
Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME, USA.
BACKGROUNDWomen are entering surgical fields in increasing numbers, recently accounting for approximately 10.9% of the Urology physician workforce, an increase from 7.7% in 2014. Just over a third of all urology residents who matched in 2022 were female. While we have seen an increase in the number of female urologists entering practice, the number of female physicians entering residency appears to be slowing.1If we wish to continue recruiting and retaining female surgeons, we need to understand their specific needs. The most frequently cited barriers to females entering surgical fields include lack of mentorship and lack of support through childrearing. There has been little research in investigating the support that exists for lactating urologists specifically. We aim to uncover perceived support of lactating surgeons in Urology. We hypothesize that there will be variation in breastfeeding support amongst institutions.
METHODSA 23 question survey was distributed to members of Society of Women in Urology (SWIU) and Women Docs in Urology (WDU). All women urologists who breastfed at least one child during their practice or surgical training were included. Data was collected and simple statistics were used to calculate percentage data.
RESULTS89 responses were collected over the course of 3 weeks. Participants were on average 6 years into practice. 29 states were represented. Reported practice data include 57% working in a large practice of over 11 physicians, 61.6% work in urban settings, and 66.3% in academic practice. 55.2% worked in a practice with fewer than 50% female providers and another 33.3% were the only female provider in their group. The majority (76.1%) spent an average of 1-2 days in the OR per week. 55.6% used a wearable breast pump (elvie, willow, etc). When asked if they felt supported by their workplace and colleagues to continue to pump the majority (66.2%, 74.1%) agreed or strongly agreed. When asked if they had been penalized, felt they would lose their job or miss out on a promotion the majority disagreed or strongly disagreed (80.9%, 95.5%, 78.6%). Mixed results were seen when asked if they felt their coworkers understood their needs while breastfeeding (55.1%) and if they had adequate time and an appropriate space to pump at work (45%, 47.7% agreed). Space was left at the end of the survey to leave additional comments on and the most common themes mentioned were lack of time, space and loss of RVUs.
CONCLUSIONSOverall there appears to be good perceived support for breastfeeding amongst urologists in our sample. There is a lack of understanding from coworkers regarding our participants specific needs while breastfeeding. Our participants also describe challenges finding enough time and having an appropriate space to continue pumping at work. Our data gives important information that can help us to better understand the needs of lactating urologists. We may use this data to better support lactating surgeons in the future.
References:1.Findlay BF, Bearrick EN, Granberg CF, Koo K. Path to Parity: Trends in Female Representation Among Physicians, Trainees, and Applicants in Urology and Surgical Specialties. J Urology. 2023. 172; 228-233.
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