But the general population differs from the medical field, based on the results of a Harvard Medical School (HMS) report believed to be the first of its kind, according to its author, Leigh Ann Humphries, an HMS student in the graduating class of 2017.
Explore This IssueFebruary 2016
The study of 75 women in the class of 2017 at HMS, conducted by Humphries and published in the Harvard Medical School Review in January 2015, found that 65% of single women intend to keep their maiden names, and 63% of the married women had already done so. “Most felt that marrying later in medical training would make it more likely for them to hold on to their maiden names,” Humphries wrote.
There are several options married couples can consider when deciding which names to use after the wedding. A woman can continue to use her maiden name both professionally and personally or use her maiden name for work and her married name for social situations. She can use her husband’s last name and drop her maiden name entirely or use it as a middle name. She and her husband may choose to hyphenate their names or change their last names to a name that combines a portion of both last names. Finally, the man may choose to take on his wife’s last name and drop his own. Ultimately, “it’s a personal decision, and there’s no right or wrong,” said Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, professor of otolaryngology at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
“I used to joke that I couldn’t wait to get married with someone named Brown or Jones or Smith, but I didn’t get a better name,” said Dr. Malekzadeh, who uses her maiden name professionally but is Sonya Chiaramonte at home. When she married her husband at the end of her residency, she retained her maiden name on everything at the time, including her medical license, professional certificates, educational degree, and research papers. “It didn’t make sense to change it,” she said. Also, she believed it was important to keep her birth name because, she said, “I was the first in my family to go to medical school, and I wanted to give credit to my family. My dad was very proud.”
But she began to think differently once her own family expanded. Now, with four children aged 17, 15, 11, and 8, she appreciates the value of having a single family name for unity. “We travel quite a bit, and the kids have their father’s name, and I didn’t want it to be awkward,” she said. She now uses her husband’s last name. “The only glitch has been with