Challenges and Solutions for Physician Mothers: A Critical Review of the Literature

Sherry S. Chesak, Kaia C. Yngve, Julie M. Taylor, Elida R. Voth, Anjali Bhagra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Physician mothers face unique challenges related to family planning, pregnancy, childcare, work-life integration, inequities, and biases that may have serious widespread implications. There is a paucity of available information on the extent and ramifications of such challenges and related solutions. The purpose of this critical review of the literature was to identify and summarize challenges and solutions pertaining to physician mothers. A comprehensive literature search of databases (PubMed, CINAHL, EBSCO MegaFILE, and APA PsycInfo on Ovid) from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018, identified empirical articles that addressed challenges, policies, or solutions specific to physician mothers. Search terms included: physician, doctor, surgeon, specialist, hospitalist, pediatrician, woman, female, gender, mom, mother, maternity, breastfeed, pregnant, baby, infant, parent, parenthood, child, bias, status, stigma, inequity, discrimination, equal, unequal, justice, childcare, daycare, babysit, and nanny in various combinations. Seventy-one articles met inclusion criteria and were analyzed to identify categories and themes related to challenges and solutions for physician mothers. Themes for challenges were categorized by level of influence (individual, organizational and health care system, and societal); themes for solutions were categorized by approach and intervention (mentorship, childbearing and child-rearing support, addressing barriers to career satisfaction and work-life integration, and identification and reduction of maternal bias in medicine). Physician mothers face challenges that have negative implications for individuals, organizations and the health care system, and society. Clear understanding of associated challenges and potential solutions is a critical first step to address biases and barriers affecting physician mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1578-1591
Number of pages14
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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