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Surgery. 2013 Aug;154(2):162-70. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2013.03.014.

Life events during surgical residency have different effects on women and men over time.

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Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



Women represent half of medical school graduates in the United States. Our aim was to characterize the effects of marriage and childbirth on the experiences of surgery residents.


This was a prospective, longitudinal study of categorical general surgery residents between 2008 and 2010. Outcomes included changes in faculty and peer relationships, work-life balance, financial security, and career goals over time.


We included 4,028 residents. Compared with men, women in postgraduate years (PGYs) 1 through 5 were less likely to be married (28.2% to 47.3% vs 49.6% to 67.6%) or have children (4.6% to 18.0% vs 19.0% to 45.8%) (P < .001). Women who married during PGY1 to PGY3 became worried about performing in front of senior residents (P = .005); men who married were more likely to be happy at work (P = .005). Women who had a first child during PGY1 to PGY3 were more likely to feel overwhelmed (P = .008) and worry about financial security (P = .03) than other women. Men who had a child were more likely to feel supported by faculty (P = .004), but they experienced more family strain (P = .008) compared to childless men.


Marriage and childbirth are associated with divergent changes in career experiences for women and men. Women lag behind their male peers in these life events from start to finish of residency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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