Integrating parental leave into specialist training: experience of trainees and recently graduated RANZCOG Fellows

Caroline M de Costa, Michael Permezel, Louise M Farrell, Anne E Coffey and Ajay Rane
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (5): 359-362. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10312


Objectives: To ascertain the views of trainees and recently graduated Fellows of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on their experiences of taking parental leave during specialist training.

Design: An anonymous online survey, conducted over a 1-month period from 16 August 2012 to 14 September 2012, of participants' experiences of taking parental leave and of the effects of parental leave taken by trainee colleagues on participants' own training.

Setting and participants: All trainees undertaking training for the Fellowship of the College, and all Fellows who had graduated in the past 6 years were invited to take part. Of the total 1051 invitees, 261 responded to the survey.

Main outcome measures: Ease with which parental leave was granted, ability to return to a training post after taking leave, and participants' experiences of views expressed about parental leave in the work environment.

Results: Most participants requesting parental leave were able to access it and return to a training post; however, a small proportion experienced difficulties. Among female respondents who had taken parental leave, 28 (26.2%) reported being asked about their intentions for future pregnancy during the training application process, and 45 (42.1%) reported receiving negative comments about this in the work environment.

Conclusions: While in most instances parental leave is accessible automatically, a small but significant number of trainees reported encountering difficulties. These matters are being addressed within our own College, and our results are likely to be relevant to all bodies involved in postgraduate medical training, particularly given the increasing feminisation of the medical workforce.

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  • Caroline M de Costa1
  • Michael Permezel2,3
  • Louise M Farrell4
  • Anne E Coffey1
  • Ajay Rane5

  • 1 James Cook University, Cairns, QLD.
  • 2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA.
  • 5 James Cook University, Townsville, QLD.


We are grateful to College House staff at RANZCOG for their assistance in preparing and administering the survey and collating data, and to Stephen Robson and Cindy Woods for assistance with writing up the study.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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