Choices in Practice and Parenting initiative to host open meeting in Prince George, convene interest group

Photo: James Willcox
Dressed up in mommy’s doctor’s stuff at 3 months. Photo: James Willcox

Medical students, residents, and young physicians often feel too busy, too broke, or too burned-out to feel confident starting their own families earlier in their careers. The Choices in Practice and Parenting (CP+P) initiative of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) is bringing together interested parties at an open meeting on Friday, May 12 at the Prince George Civic Centre to discuss ways of addressing the decisions and challenges that learners and practitioners face when starting a family.

Drs. Mary Johnston and Kirstie Overhill will facilitate the open meeting, and hope to empower parent-physicians through information, pragmatic action, and advocacy. “We want to help prospective parents and younger parents overcome obstacles in balancing the demands of practice and family life,” says Johnston. Overhill concurs, noting that while learners and new physicians have stated that they want to be established in their practice and financially debt-free before starting their families to mitigate risks, they in fact end up facing a different set of obstacles once they’ve achieved their goals. “Given that most physicians finish their education in their late 20s and/or early 30s, and take approximately five to ten years of practice to establish their careers and pay off educational debt, practitioners are often 35-40 years old when they start their families,” she observes. Fertility and growing mid-career demands for both partners can challenge couples who have chosen to delay childbirth.

Johnston and Overhill emphasize that there is no ideal or perfect solution for prospective parents and young parents: each person must decide for him/herself what balance to strike and when the timing to start a family would be appropriate. Choices in Practice and Parenting aims to provide a comprehensive range of information so that medical students, residents, and young physicians can make informed decisions, and feel supported in prioritizing their future fertility and reproductive health over social, financial, academic, and professional considerations if that is the path they wish to take.

“There are several groups, such as UNBC, who already have great supports for young parents in medical school,” says Johnston. “We want to learn from their practices and find ways to share that information provincially.” Johnston also notes that rural medical practice is also a viable solution for young physicians interested in starting their families earlier: remuneration is often higher for rural physicians when rural benefits are factored into annual earnings. Additionally, the availability of housing and daycare can be significantly higher in rural communities, while the costs of the same are usually significantly lower.

The open meeting for Choices in Practice and Parenting will take place on Friday, May 12 at 4:15 pm at the BC Rural Health Conference in Prince George. Everyone is welcome to bring their experiences and inquiries to the table, whether that be about the anxiety of waiting to be debt-free before starting a family, the difficulties of accessing childcare, or managing on-call schedules while raising young children. In addition to sharing solutions and innovations, the group will also discuss physician parental benefits, and map out plans for an RCCbc interest group that will advise on Choices in Practice and Parenting activities moving forward. Complimentary childcare is available during conference hours; interested attendees may sign up for childcare at the time of conference registration.
If you would like to join the RCCbc Choices in Practice and Parenting Interest Group, but are unable to attend the open meeting on May 12 in Prince George, email Ella Fund-Reznicek at efundreznicek@rccbc.ca to express your interest.
To learn more about Choices in Practice and Parenting, visit the RCCbc web site.