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Why Having a Baby Pushes Women Out of Medicine

It can be prohibitively hard to have kids when you’re a surgical resident.
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Photographer: Chris Ryan via Getty Images

Erin O’Brien tried to get pregnant at a more convenient time. Granted, when you’re a surgeon-in-training, there’s never a great time to have a baby—but O’Brien, then an ear, nose and throat resident at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, was aiming for a three-month window during a research stint, her only respite from 80-hour work weeks and hours-long operating-room stretches.

Life, as is its wont, didn’t work out that way. After two miscarriages, she gave birth in 2007, halfway through her last year of residency.