I recently put together a panel for the AAMC Continuum Connections conference (a joint meeting of student affairs, GME, medical students, and residents) on Supporting Parent Learners Throughout the Continuum. The goal was to discuss the unique needs of our parent learners, identify gaps in support, and share best practices. We had a fantastic panel including a medical student dad, an OB/GYN fellow mom, a student affairs dean, and a former PD/central GME leader.The 1 hour 15 minute session was clearly not enough time. We could have filled 2 days with the discussion. I loved that so many people had chosen to come and think about these issues and the panelists’ personal experience and perspectives were insightful. Some key areas that were brought up: communities of support for parent learners to connect with each other childcare stigma/bias parental leave breastfeeding (particularly with regards to culture/time and certain rotations) parental leave One institution holds spots in a local daycare for incoming PGY-1s since the process can take so long and there can be too little time to secure ones after Match Day. Love this idea. One school holds a welcoming event for medical student parents and their families to get to know each other right from orientation. And I shared the upcoming event at my house: babysitting for medical student parents so they could have a nice night out together –Parents’ Night Out. It was so difficult for my husband and me to share any alone time without a baby on our lap, and it’s expensive to hire babysitters, so I wanted to give our student parents some wellness. We had it this past weekend and it was a ton of fun. Students dropped off their kids at our house and I had a small crew of student volunteers who wanted to help. There were five kids total, ages 3 months to 3 years old. We adults outnumbered them -which turned out to be a very helpful ratio to trade-off and allow helpers to eat and take a break. I loved loved loved seeing our medical student parents and their kids. When one couple came to drop-off wearing nice going out clothes and mentioned it was their first date since the baby was born, I think my heart grew two sizes. I also enjoyed getting to know the students who volunteered their time to help on a Saturday night. At the AAMC panel, the former PD/central GME speaker said to the audience: to the younger generations, I’m sorry my generation could not figure it out (in terms of parental leave). It’s still an issue after all of these years. But, what I would add to that is that we have certainly made progress. More of us are thinking about how to support our parent learners better, as well as all of our learners. Just having a dedicated session to that during a conference is a start.
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