The article on Healio, part of their diversity, equity, and inclusion series with ASGE, features Elizabeth Paine, MD, discussing the importance of clear and thorough parental leave policies in gastroenterology. Dr. Paine, who is the deputy associate chief of staff for specialty care at G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, highlights that despite a recommendation made over 25 years ago by the four main GI societies for 8 weeks of parental leave, it has not been widely implemented. This lack of implementation leads to inequities and biases, particularly affecting those who choose to have children or become pregnant while pursuing a career in gastroenterology.
The article notes that concerns about fertility and parental leave policies can influence specialty choices and fellowship programs among female internal medicine residents interested in gastroenterology. These concerns can lead to delayed pregnancy and higher rates of infertility compared to male colleagues. Additionally, inflexible parental leave policies that focus solely on the birth parent can negatively impact fathers and LGBTQ+ family units.
In 2022, the American College of Graduate Medical Education introduced new requirements mandating a minimum of 6 weeks of paid medical, parental, or caregiver leave for GI trainees. Dr. Paine emphasizes that clear and thorough parental leave policies benefit hospital leadership by improving recruitment and retention and reducing burnout. The article underscores the need for more inclusive and supportive policies in the field of gastroenterology to promote diversity and equity.