December 30, 2019
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Dermatology residency programs should address barriers for breastfeeding trainees

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Dermatology residency programs should address and help with barriers that nursing trainees face during their residency, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

“We recognize that dermatology residency programs vary widely in resident numbers, reliance on residents for patient access, space restrictions and responsibilities for clinic revenue,” Lia E. Gracey, MD, PhD, of the department of dermatology at Baylor Scott & White Health in Austin, Texas, and colleagues wrote. “However, we call on programs to make these accommodations for breastfeeding residents as it is a fundamental right.”

A study conducted in 2018 found that 97% of women physicians who have breastfed reported at least one barrier. Trainees report more barriers to pumping than attending physicians. Trainees within dermatology face barriers specifically caused by the specialty’s lower amount of coverage, which can cause high-pressure situations such as patient volume, access, workload and clinic flow. A survey evaluated by the researchers found that 62.5% of residents stopped breastfeeding because it was too difficult along with residency responsibilities.

Researchers suggested that dermatology residency programs should provide private areas for lactation closer to clinics along with access to a computer so the resident may pump breast milk while completing clinical and educational tasks. Programs are urged to also provide hospital-grade pumps to reduce pumping time so the resident can continue work. Finally, the researchers recommend program directors set personalized plans and mentoring for residents returning from maternity leave to make the transition more feasible.

Providing these efforts will benefit both the residents within the dermatology specialty and the patients.

“We charge dermatology residency program leadership and faculty to be intentional, explicit and proactive in establishing a positive environment within their departments to support breastfeeding residents and their new families,” the researchers wrote. by Erin T. Welsh