Flexible Scheduling Policy for Pregnant and New Parent Residents: A Descriptive Pilot Study

Kimberly A. Chernoby, Katie E. Pettit, Jaclyn H. Jansen, Julie L. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Many physicians complete residency training during optimal childbearing years. The literature shows that working nights or on call can lead to pregnancy complications including miscarriage, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. In addition, infant–parent bonding in the postpartum period is crucial for breastfeeding, health, and well-being. No national standards exist for flexible scheduling options for pregnant or new parent residents. Our project objectives are 1) to describe a policy for scheduling pregnant and new parent residents in an emergency medicine (EM) residency and 2) to report pilot outcomes to assess feasibility of implementation, resident satisfaction, and pregnancy outcomes. Methods: An EM residency task force developed a proposal of scheduling options for pregnant and new parent residents based on best practice recommendations and resident input. The policy included prenatal scheduling options for pregnant residents and postpartum scheduling options for all new resident parents. Resident support for the policy was evaluated via an anonymous survey. It was piloted for 2 months in an EM residency program. Results: Policy development resulted in 1) an opt-out prenatal pregnancy work hour option policy with no nights or call during the first and third trimesters, 2) a 6-week new parent flexible scheduling policy, and 3) clarified sick call options. A majority of residents approved the new policy. During the 2-month pilot period, four residents (of 73 total) utilized the policy. The chief residents reported no added burden in scheduling. Of the residents who utilized the policy, all reported high satisfaction. There were no reported pregnancy or postpartum complications. Conclusions: We successfully adopted a new scheduling policy for pregnant residents and new parents in one of the largest EM residency training programs in the country. This policy can serve as a national model for other graduate medical education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAEM Education and Training
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency

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