A Case For Support For Breastfeeding Cardiology Fellows

"Cardiovascular medicine is among the most gender-imbalanced medical specialties in the U.S. Over the last 12 years, the proportion of women in U.S. cardiology fellowship programs has remained stagnant around 20 percent," write Jenna Kay, MD, FACC; Nosheen Reza, MD; and Frank E. Silvestry, MD, FACC, in a "Voices in Cardiology" article published Dec. 4 in JACC: Case Reports. Among the top factors contributing to this imbalance: inadequate workplace support for pregnant and nursing cardiologists.

Using the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine as an example, Kay, Reza and Silvestry highlight how a set of behavioral and practice guidelines for lactating fellows, written by fellows-in-training and early career faculty, are helping to minimize workplace obstacles and build a culture of support for new mothers. The guidelines outline some of the challenges faced by breastfeeding fellows, as well as the typical amount of time for pumping and the minimum requirements necessary for pumping spaces (i.e., cleanliness, privacy, refrigeration capabilities, and availability of a telephone and computer for performing clinical work).

"We have experienced success with our Guidelines for Wellness of Breastfeeding Cardiology Fellows, and this initiative is embedded in a larger ongoing programmatic effort to advocate for adequate and paid maternity and paternity leaves, widely disseminate medical specialty board and existing health system policies on leave and extensions of training, and ensure occupational radiation safety," they write. "By cultivating a culture of openness and acceptance for new and future parents, we hope that continued efforts such as ours help support trainees as well as attract and retain more women as future generations of cardiologists."

Keywords: Pregnancy, Mothers, Workplace, Lactation, Parental Leave, Training Support, Social Responsibility

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