Increasing numbers of women physicians are choosing to pursue a fellowship after residency. One recent study of 11,080 surgical residents showed that, from 1993 to 2005, the number of women residents doubled and the percentage of residents choosing fellowships increased from 67% to 77% (Borman, 2008). Although there is less information on parenting during fellowship than parenting during residency, most of the residency literature is relevant to fellowship as well.
As with residency, fellowship can be a challenging time during your training to have a child, especially if you are considering a clinical or procedure-oriented training program. Fellowship can be stressful because of the sheer volume of responsibilities and competing demands such as clinical care and course work, not to mention childbearing and parenting. However, an unstructured academic fellowship may provide sufficient flexibility for you to accomplish all of these major life events simultaneously, and even gracefully.
One major difference between residency and fellowship is the absence of the 80-hour work rules. The ACGME restrictions do not consistently apply to fellows since fellows are considered to be junior attending physicians and not residents. Therefore, the sheer number of hours at work during fellowship might make mothering quite difficult. Be sure to review and understand all of the policies that will pertain to you before committing to a training program. Specifically, it is worth determining if work-hour rules exist for the fellowships you are considering. The presence or absence of work-hour protection might affect your choice of fellowship, especially if you are a parent or are planning pregnancy.