The need for on-site childcare in hospitals was officially broached in 1983, when the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article entitled “Hospitals Should Provide Day-Care for Children of Employees,” in which the authors contended that such services would improve productivity, decrease turnover, and aid in recruitment (JAMA. 1983;249:2090–2091). Some 35 years later, that argument has proven to be true for the well-established medical institutions that usually lead the pack in published lists of “the best hospitals in which to work.” One such hospital is Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., which offers: lactation rooms for breast-feeding mothers along with support services that include counseling, pumps and refrigeration; an onsite childcare center; and a dependent care account to help cover childcare expenses for children under age 13.
In some cases, off-site childcare is an option. Los Angeles’ Cedars Sinai Medical Center chose a location two miles off campus in a family-friendly neighborhood for its Maple Bear Academy, which serves children of employees only and is open Monday through Friday, early morning to evening. The childcare center at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, Calif., has similar hours but is located on campus and is open to the local community as well as to employees.
For smaller hospitals and private medical practices, on-site childcare is the exception rather than the rule, a reality that can make working at these facilities less attractive to residents and physicians with growing families. In the absence of childcare support, many physicians opt to work part-time while their spouse works full-time, but this can often limit the ability to pursue a specialty or vie for a promotion.