Many academic activities do not lend themselves to a twelve- or even a six-week break. As a result, the academic productivity of women with young children has the potential to suffer.   If you are a faculty member on maternity leave, you may want to or need to stay connected with your academic career while being temporarily disconnected from your clinical responsibilities. In that context, you could set some manageable academic goals for yourself during your leave. Spending some leave time on your personal academic projects is very different from having regular meetings or deadlines set by others for you while you are away. For example, you could submit a proposal for a conference presentation. Conference proposals are typically due six to nine months before the actual conference and are not very arduous to write. Some are as simple as a 200-word abstract. If you submitted a proposal that was later accepted, then you would avoid delaying the opportunity to present your scholarly work to a regional or national audience for an entire year.

The very real risk of keeping women physicians in academic medicine connected while they are on maternity leave is that they will end up being expected to do substantial work during their time away. It is reasonable to maintain some academic momentum on your own terms, as long as you are the only one expecting you to do it, and not your colleagues or boss. If and only if your baby will let you, you may be able to participate in some less strenuous academic endeavors such as writing conference submissions, editing papers, and attending conferences. Try to delegate as many administrative responsibilities as possible. Ideally, when you get back from your leave, some of those delegations can become permanent.