Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

When Nursing Affects the Rest of Your Life

I don't know if this still is a local story, or if it's gotten out over the interwebs to all the other nursing zealots, but if it hasn't, it should. I know most of you are up in arms about nursing in restaurants and showing photos of nursing mothers on MySpace and FaceBook. Honestly, I haven't nursed in 13 years, I'm not all that invested in the entire scope of being outraged over any slight about nursing, and I kinda think that people that are so incensed about every single incident where a mom gets kicked out of a restaurant might think about getting a hobby.

But this is different. This is a story of a nursing mother who is in her final year of medical school. She needs to take a 9-hour test (and pass it) in order to take up her already matched residency in November. Her problem? The testers refused to allow her time off to nurse her baby. Or to pump. She has one 45 minute break half way through the test. Her baby is 4 months old. She is going to be so engorged and leaky that she is fearful she can't do her best on the test. She's asking for a short break of 20 minutes to pump. She was categorically refused by the NBME, who told her "Nursing is not a permenant condition."

This test affects the rest of her life. If she cannot take the test, she cannot become a doctor. If she can't take the test, she can't take up her residency. She's obviously brilliant, in a PhD/MD program at Harvard and was matched at Mass General, one of the worlds greatest hospitals. She's obviously serious about her career. She's asking for a small accomodation in order to relieve her engorgement and pump for her nursling. That she was refused is outrageous. That people polled here in Boston agreed with the agency by 69% makes me ballistic. What the fuck?
The testing board says that the only accomodate for disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities act. Nursing is obviously not a disability. I mean, nobody can argue that it is. But you gotta wonder if any women serve on that board, and of the women that might be on the board, did any of them ever nurse? Experience engorgement? Mastitis? You really gotta wonder.

I don't have an answer to this problem other than to schedule 2 20-minute breaks instead of one 45 minute break. If kids can gobble down a meal in 20 minutes, adults should be able to as well. But what I do know is that something is very very wrong with a medical institution if they don't know the simple facts about nursing mothers.

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Blogger moon said...

As I read this, my jaw just started to fall farther and farther to the floor...I was flabbergasted at how absolutely rediculous these so called intelligent ppl running the NBME are...and again at the pole 69% ?!...wtf is right...did 31% of ppl have their heads up their collective ass?? JASUS!!..

20/9/07 7:39 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

What BS. Like you, I'm sort of "eh" on the nursing-in-public issue, but this is absurd.

The other thing I thought was that it's odd that the medical exam is only 9 hours. I mean, that's all the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is, and that's a much lower level...

20/9/07 11:10 PM  
Blogger Reflekshins said...

your labels crack me up.

I agree, stupid, stupid, stupid

21/9/07 12:11 AM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

She needs to go rent one of the biggest, most powerful hospital grade nursing pumps, take it to the test with her, pop it on, and then periodically flip the switch. That should solve the engorgement problem, and teach those administration mouth breathers a thing or two.

Also, is that woman in the picture nursing in heels and pearls???

21/9/07 6:24 AM  
Anonymous wawa said...

these people in NBME was exactly like your label,

stupid. stupid., stupid.

seriously we need to think again, how these people could be in medical line if they themselves don't believe in science.

21/9/07 8:32 AM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

I read this out loud to my mom and husband, both in the room with me, and we all had the same reaction: how incredibly stupid! My husband said she should take a pump with her to the test and just switch it on during the test. My mom said it almost seems like child abuse, that they're refusing to let the mother nurse her child. And I, having been a nursing mother for two years, can't stop thinking of how much it would HURT to have to go that long without nursing a 4-month baby! The whole thing stinks.

21/9/07 6:09 PM  
Anonymous SmocknMama said...

I am a nursing mother myself, six children, the youngest 10 months and still nursing.

My next statement will anger many. I agree with the board. she can not have her cake and eat it too. There is more to this story than you posted. She has already been given special permission to have an extra day for her to take the test (two days instead of one). She says she has ADHD and needs more time than others and used the system to get more time to take this test already. At what point is this woman going to stop using excuses to get what she wants. doctors are not gods, although they get treated that way in the US (mostly).

I want a doctor who has learned how to balance his/her life, not a doctor who may at some point in her career say, "Oh, could you NOT die today as I need more time to diagnose you. I have ADHD and Dyslexia and need to go nurse my child." Yes, an extreme, but point made, right? And I know she want research as a career, but still.

I spent two nights in the hospital with one of my children who had an emergency, I left my 3 month old nursling at home with my husband while I was at the hospital. During the first 15 hours I was engorged and stressed and in pain from the meed to nurse or pump, but my thoughts were with my injured child and that was my priority at that point. I was in an emergency situation. She is not. She has known about this test for a long time. She has already failed it once. She has had time to plan and work things out. She was also offered a separate testing room where she could pump while testing, but she refused it. I believe this woman only wants her 15 minutes of fame. And is giving a bad name to those of us who breastfeed our children and manage to keep it polite even in public.

"Currier has already received special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act for dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including being granted permission to take the test over two days instead of one."

23/9/07 9:41 AM  
Blogger talia said...

Funny, I was just going to post about the same thing, Smocknmamma! The fine print always gets overlooked, I had read that she had already fought w/the board on all of her other stuff. It will be quite difficult for her to be a good MD if everything is about her. Gimme a break. How can a doctor in training think no rule applies to her? FYI--she also has a full YEAR to take this test, and her baby is now over 4 months old...

23/9/07 8:31 PM  

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