The pregnant surgical trainee: Current exposures and risk factors a review


      • Pregnant surgical trainees are subject to both social and environmental risks due to their occupation.
      • Environmental risks to surgical trainees include exposure to radiation, chemicals, communicable diseases, anesthetic gases, and long work hours.
      • Social risks that pregnant surgeons face include lack of mentorship, negative attitudes or microaggressions from colleagues, and inadequate parental leave.
      • Training programs as well as surgical employers have the responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their female surgeons who are pregnant or planning families.


      More women are choosing a career in surgery, many of whom plan to have children during their residency and fellowship training. However, women still face perceived physical and psychological barriers to childbearing during training. In this article we review the risks of surgical exposures such as bloodborne disease, radiation, bone cement, physical labor and fatigue, and emotional stressors for the pregnant resident. Cultural barriers for pregnant residents persist, including biased comments or resentment from colleagues or attendings. Parental leave policies are inconsistent among programs and specialties. This article is intended to empower female residents and program faculty to make informed decisions and policies to support trainees, encourage diversity, and keep surgical programs competitive among top applicants.


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