Second-year student Morgan Levy’s capstone research on family building among physicians has been published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“It’s an honor to have our work disseminated in these journals and highlight the challenges physicians face on their journey to build their families,” said Levy, a second-year student in the MD/MPH program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine . “I am looking forward to the conversations about ways to make family building more equitable for physicians emerge as a result of our work.”
COVID-19 and Family Building
Levy’s study, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Family Building Among Physicians and Medical Students,” published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examines how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the family-building plans of physicians across the country.
“Before the pandemic, physicians already were more likely to face infertility than the general public,” Levy said. “When combined with delays in access to fertility treatment during the pandemic and physicians serving as front-line health care workers, the potential for an exacerbation of the already existing challenges was something that our study team wondered about.”
Levy surveyed physicians and medical students about the impact of COVID-19 on their plans to start or build families. Out of 1885 participants who answered the free response about COVID-19, 37.4% (n=708) said that COVID-19 impacted their family building plans. In the qualitative analysis, delaying starting or expanding a family due to the pandemic was a common theme. Among the issues addressed in the study were changes in fertility treatment, an inability to see their partner, postponed weddings, deliberate pauses in childbearing, COVID-19 vaccination, adoption delays and financial stressors, as well as shifting attitudes about having children.
The findings stress the need for health care employers to encourage fertility check-ups, provide insurance coverage for fertility treatment, and educate healthcare leaders including residency program directors and hospital administrators about the importance of supporting family building both financially and by providing more flexible schedules for physicians and trainees.
“Institutions that want to reverse the negative impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of physicians must be intentional about incorporating these recommendations alongside other efforts,” Levy said. “The challenges faced by physicians as frontline healthcare workers, along with the already existing challenges they face while building their families, need to be addressed.”
Abortion Among Physicians
Levy’s second published work, “Abortion Among Physicians,” published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, reveals that physicians aren’t only providers of abortion services, but they may also be potential patients.
Levy’s study found that 10.2% of participants or their partners under 45 who desired biological children have had an abortion. While the abortion rate of physicians is lower than the rate of abortion in the general population (23.7%), it is still a significant number. Physicians who have had an abortion were also more likely to have delayed building their family as they completed their education and training.
“Abortion is not uncommon among physicians, and maintaining access to abortion care is critical to support reproductive autonomy in the physician workforce,” Levy said. “It is important for physicians to advocate for abortion rights for the care of their patients and their colleagues.”