JACC Paper Calls Attention to Disparate Parental Policies Across CV Training Programs

A paper published May 23 the Journal of the American College of Cardiology identifies a lack of standardized support for trainees who become parents during cardiovascular training. The paper adds to growing research surrounding gender workforce disparities in the field of cardiology, where just 21.3% of fellows are women.

According to Estefania Oliveros, MD, FACC, member of ACC's Women in Cardiology Section Leadership Council, et al., trainees perceive cardiovascular specialists to have adverse job conditions, a lack of workforce diversity, training and work expectations that interfere with family life and poor work-life balance. As such, the researchers conducted an anonymous survey study of 417 participants via social media to evaluate and compare parental benefits and policies among cardiovascular training programs internationally. This included schedule changes, radiation exposure, parental leave, breastfeeding or breast milk expression, childcare and management of pregnancy-related health issues.

They found benefits and policies varied widely in their availability and allowances. The average parental leave in the U.S. ranged from one to two months, compared to over four months in other countries. Awareness surrounding leave policies was also low across the board. For example, paternity leave was uncommon in all countries, although nearly half of the programs included in the survey have the policy in place. Further, coverage during family leave was primarily provided by peers without additional monetary or time compensation.

"The significant heterogeneity in policies among programs demonstrated in our study presents an opportunity for endorsing the creation of specialty-wide parental leave standards or consensus statements to provide a powerful tool to facilitate positive change," Oliveros writes.

In an accompanying editorial comment, Ileana L. Piña, MD, MPH, FACC, emphasizes the need for cardiovascular fellowship programs to directly address fellows' concerns over pregnancy and parental leave, writing that "the current status is unacceptable and must change for the benefit of all – trainees, their families, and the program directors."

Piña adds: "Perhaps if the women who are the subjects of, and often the unwitting party to, administrative decisions about their lives, choices, and welfare were invited to contribute to the changes, we would finally see an increase in the number of women in cardiology careers. After all, aren't we about diversity and belonging?"

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: Pregnancy, Parental Leave, Fellowships and Scholarships, Work-Life Balance, Workforce, Organizational Policy

< Back to Listings