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.
Explore this issue:May 2017
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.
What about Dad?
There’s no getting around it: In the U.S., the vast majority of working parents who require a steady income are obliged to spend large chunks of time away from their new babies. Having in-home care, especially if it is provided by a trusted family member or friend, seems like the next best thing to being there—especially if that caregiver happens to be the father.
“There’s an increasing push for fathers to be able to take time off at the time that a child is born or adopted,” said Kim Templeton, MD, past president of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). Although FMLA provides for paternity leave, most states still do not provide paid family leave to mothers and fathers on an equal basis, however, and a 2012 U.S. Department of Labor study reported that only 13% of men who took parental leave received pay, compared with 21% of women. “There is still this mindset that women are rearing their children, while time spent by fathers with their children is ‘babysitting,’” Dr. Templeton added.
The fact remains that unless there’s a permanent stay-at-home loved one to care for your child, the need for professional childcare is unavoidable. “I tell people, ‘If you think your childcare is too expensive, you have to think of it as an investment,’” said Gayle Woodson, MD, a mother and an otolaryngologist at Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates in Winter, Fla. Dr. Woodson has relied on hired help to assist with her growing family for years. “You want somebody who can take really good care of your kids but can also do the housework so you can come home and be able to help with homework or read a story,” she said. “That’s my philosophy.”