When it comes to healthcare, it’s a women-dominated industry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 76 percent of healthcare jobs and over 85 percent of nursing jobs are held by women.
As meaningful and important as this work may be however, many of these women also struggle with another full-time job on top of their careers — the job of parenting.
There’s no question about it that being a mother in the healthcare industry is challenging. I myself became pregnant when the pandemic hit and still was required to work. Often, all of us mothers can resonate with the inability to find a normal work-life balance that most of our friends and family have. From sleepless nights and long hours to the needs of our children and ourselves, the limits we surpass with our bodies and minds are plenty.
Without further ado, here are some of the biggest pain points that we mothers face as healthcare workers and parents.
No Work-Life Balance
Imagine you’re in the hospital when suddenly, an influx of ill patients come in through the doors. Before you know it, you’re off your lunch break and up on your feet, ready for yet another long shift. As your legs ache in pain, you then hear that someone is calling you. In response, you whip the phone to your ears.
It’s none other than your daughter, who’s wondering where you are as she stands backstage for her ballet concert.
Your heart sinks into your stomach as the realization hits — you’ll have to miss your child’s event yet again.
Time and time again, one of the biggest pain points associated with being a mother in healthcare is the inability to separate our personal and professional lives. This can have a big impact on our mental health, as one study indicates. Mothers are more likely to feel guilt than fathers, especially in situations where the mother’s job conflicts with duties to the family. Quite often, we feel like we’re missing out on our child’s lives and the opportunity to watch them grow up before our eyes. With how hard it is to change our rigid schedules, it’s almost impossible to find a solution — especially when holidays and vacation time-off are never guaranteed.
The pandemic has only increased the pressure that plenty of healthcare workers already face. From overcrowded hospitals to increased risk of infection, there’s no shortage of stress that weighs down the shoulders of every mother.
Collectively, we all feel the tension that grows when we think about the oath we took as healthcare providers to always care for people, but also our responsibility as mothers to protect our families. It’s mentally and physically exhausting to know that every time we step out on the front lines to care for an influx of patients, that we’re potentially putting our own children at risk back home.
As health care industry workers, most of us become mothers while still on the job, thanks to the poor maternity leave policies etched into place.
That means plenty of sick days filled with nausea where we’d rather still stay on the job because most sick leave policies are often unpaid. It becomes that much harder to keep wearing a mask, staying alert for emergencies, and standing for long hours on end. On top of that, we still have to breast pump throughout the day, which can make for unpredictable work schedules and annoyed colleagues.
Although being a mother within the healthcare industry has its significant challenges, there’s no doubt that it’s still a very rewarding career. However, this article hopes to shed light on some of our biggest frustrations in the hopes that change will make our lives easier.