Plastic Surgery and Parenthood
This Mother's Day we hear from BAPRAS Members Lauren and Rajan Uppal on their joint experience of balancing careers in plastic surgery with parenthood. Read their advice below and find out how becoming parents impacted how they deal with work, from sharing maternity/paternity leave to what elements of support they feel still need to be improved.
How do you balance your career and childcare duties?
It’s important to balance the temptation to work more hours with remembering the importance of little things in life, like walking your child to school or sitting down for a family dinner. Having a balanced and happy home life makes us better clinicians. With both parents contributing to childcare it makes for happy children and happier parents who can equally progress within their careers without one feeling like they are held back or compromising.
How has being a parent impacted your experience at work?
We have gained much more empathy for patients who have children with the challenges they face when juggling work, childcare and recovering from an operation. And a different appreciation of the anxiety a parent experiences when operating on their child.
What advice would you have for new mothers or fathers working in or considering a career in plastic surgery?
There is no longer the need to choose between a family and a career. Having the father contribute more equally in parenting improves the wellbeing of the whole family and allows both parents to aim high and progress well in their careers.
What was your experience of paternity leave?
Lauren took the first nine months off and then I took three months off to look after our beautiful daughter who is doing well, both our Trusts were supportive of this. I was the first surgeon to take three months’ paternity leave in my Trust when my other daughter was born five years ago. Initially, many of my surgical colleagues thought this was a strange thing to do, but since then many of them have also taken this opportunity to spend time with their children. There is a financial penalty as this leave is unpaid, however this is more than made up for by the time used in bonding with one's child and working together as parents in bringing up children. I would certainly encourage colleagues to do the same.
What else do you think needs to change within the specialism to accommodate for working parents?
We need better pay and compulsory paternity leave to come in line with Northern Europe policies. For example, Germany and Sweden give give fully paid mandatory leave to both partners to support their families.
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