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OP-01 Returning to ophthalmology training following maternity leave: a collaborative autoethnography
  1. Elewys Hearne1,
  2. John L Anderson2,
  3. Sebastian CK Shaw2
  1. 1Severn Deanery, UK
  2. 2Department of Medical Education, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK


Introduction The number of women training in surgical specialties has sharply increased over the last 30 years. As a consequence, these female surgical trainees are having children during their training programmes presenting numerous challenges for both the training programme directors and the trainees themselves. When faced with a prolonged break from surgical training, for example maternity leave, simulation is a safe and effective method of revising surgical skills.

Aims This study aims to describe the experience of returning to work after maternity leave as an ophthalmology trainee, and how simulation impacted that experience.

Methods A collaborative autoethnographic approach was used to illustrate an in-depth account of an ophthalmology trainee returning to work from maternity leave. A reflective account was written which guided two interviews. These were then transcribed, and thematic analysis was performed.

Results A traumatic shift in one’s concept of self, self-image, and social identity was the consequence of the conflicting maternity leave and working surgeon cultures. Low self-esteem, perceived stereotypes and imposter syndrome could be conquered with a good support network. Enhancements in paediatric clinical skills, communication skills with parents and self-reflection were reported, however a widespread disapproval of simulation amongst senior surgical trainees was also illustrated.

Conclusion This study reveals important systemic issues within the workplace and psychological hurdles which were confronted on returning from maternity leave. This can facilitate support mechanisms for surgical trainees returning from maternity leave, by informing surgical training programme directors and promoting further research into this significant area.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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