Physician burnout has been framed as a public health crisis, with negative consequences for doctors, their patients, and healthcare organisations. Female sex has been identified as a predictor of burnout. Two important factors implicated are maternal bias (colleagues perceive pregnant women and/or mothers as less competent or less committed within their job) and the lack of support for female physicians around family planning, pregnancy, and motherhood. Pregnancy among physicians may be associated with a variety of challenges including delayed childbearing, increased use of assisted reproductive technology, higher rates of complications, discrimination against, and stigmatisation of, pregnancy, and slowed career progression. There is a need to understand the experiences of female physicians around fertility and family planning, pregnancy and motherhood, and to enact supports required to ensure females can realise both family and career aspirations. Ensuring the appropriate support of female physicians around pregnancy and motherhood is likely a crucial part of a solution to the international medical recruitment and retention crisis.
This research will be conducted as four work packages:
- A scoping review of research on pregnancy and motherhood among European and UK physicians.
- A survey of Irish female physicians that will consider fertility and family planning, experiences of pregnancy and childbearing, perceived impacts of pregnancy and childbearing on work and careers, and the relationship of these variables with wellbeing.
- Interviews with Irish female physicians on perceived barriers and facilitators to pregnancy and motherhood.
- A national, multispecialty panel of female physicians that will consider the data collected and offer recommendations on changes required to support an optimal working environment.
This research will provide a better understanding of the supports required to enable female physicians to enjoy pregnancy and motherhood alongside career success. It has the potential to deliver important benefits for physicians, patients, and the healthcare system.