Identifying Clinical Coverage

So far we have considered some of the financial and logistical aspects of a maternity leave and helped you to identify with whom and when you will begin your negotiations.  When you first meet with your supervisor, you can share your tentative plans so far.  As part of that meeting, be sure to have him or her answer any questions you may have.  One of those questions will be who is responsible for identifying coverage for you while you are away.  Will arranging coverage be up to you or someone else?  In some ways, planning your own coverage makes sense in that you know best what it is that you do that needs to be done while you are on leave.  On the other hand, identifying coverage is sometimes not a simple task and ends up being just one more thing for you to do before your leave starts.  If you are designated with finding your own coverage, you must know far enough in advance to allocate some time during your pregnancy for this important task.

Since the answer to the question of who will be responsible for finding coverage for you may depend on the particular task in question, it is important to be as specific as possible in your negotiations.  Before that first meeting with your supervisor, you should divide your current job into clinical, teaching, research, and administrative activities.  Then at one of your planning meetings, it may be decided that the Medical Director will arrange for someone to cover your clinical responsibilities, but you will need to find a substitute for your teaching obligations.  Identifying different people to cover each individual aspect of your job can be an effective way to avoid overburdening one or two people while you are away.

Look for creative ways to cover your clinical responsibilities.  Depending on your specialty and your current work environment, your individual job may include inpatient, outpatient, and overnight and weekend call responsibilities.  Maybe someone can cover for you who will also need a similar type of lengthy coverage in the future.  For example, if you can identify a colleague planning a leave, for whatever reason, at a different time than your own, then covering sequentially for each other would be mutually beneficial.  If that sort of cross-coverage arrangement is not a possibility, perhaps the person(s) who will be covering for you can be relieved of some of their other responsibilities while you are away, as a way of acknowledging the extra work that they will be doing.

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