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Integrating parental leave into specialist training: experience of trainees and recently graduated RANZCOG Fellows

More than 50% of students now entering medical school are female; in 2012, of the 3600 graduates across Australia 55% were women.1 The vast majority of these are now in the medical workforce and most will wish to undergo some form of further training in the near future.2,3 For those undertaking training to fulfil the requirements of one of the increasing number of specialist colleges, this may mean up to 8 years of further training. Training to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) takes a minimum of 6 years; completing subspecialty training (eg, maternal fetal medicine) requires at least another year. In 2012 and 2013, 80% of young doctors commencing Fellowship training were women (RANZCOG Workforce and Evaluation Unit, unpublished data).

Most of those completing the medical course do so in their mid twenties to early thirties; post-graduate training therefore most commonly takes place between the ages of 25 and 35. This is exactly the age group which, as obstetricians, we see as the optimal time for women to undertake pregnancy and childbirth. It is therefore unsurprising that a significant proportion of women undergoing specialist training wish to be able to take some time off from that training for pregnancy, birth and the care of their newborn infants.…