Harvard med student breastfeeding mom sues the national licening board - Mothering Forums
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Lactivism > Harvard med student breastfeeding mom sues the national licening board
Googy's Avatar Googy 01:40 AM 09-12-2007
This woman is a breastfeeding mom who is a M.D./Ph.D. student at Harvard Medical School. She is scheduled to take her licensing exams, which take place over two 9-hour days. She has asked for one extra hour a day to take the tests so that she has time to pump milk for her 4 month old daughter, explaining that she cannot go more than 3 hours without pumping without affecting her milk supply and putting herself at risk for infection. The National Board of Medical Examiners has denied her request. She sued them, and the matter is now in federal court. Here is the news story:

http://wbztv.com/massachusettswire/M...rces_news_html

Here is the contact information for the National Board of Medical Examiners, if any of you would like to join me in sending them a strongly worded letter or two:

National Board of Medical Examiners
3750 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3102
General telephone number: (215) 590-9500
Examinee support services: (215) 590-9700; fax (215) 590-9457
[email protected]

AngelBee's Avatar AngelBee 01:44 AM 09-12-2007
: that she wins BIG TIME!
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna 01:59 AM 09-12-2007
I hope she wins also, that is F'd up!
Ravin's Avatar Ravin 02:38 AM 09-12-2007
Personally, I think it would be a reasonable accomodation to let her have her 4 mo. with her and nursing in a sling WHILE she is taking the exam.

Also, with all that's on the line, I think I'd be willing to risk engorgement by only pumping during the allotted breaks. She may not be able to empty them, but she should be able to relieve the pressure in a 10-15 min. pumping session if she's in practice (which she presumably is having bf'ed through med school). Not to mention eat and pump at the same time during her lunch break.

OTOH, I don't think there is enough accomodation for nursing mothers needing to pump in work and work-related environments. My place of employment has a special separate break room for smokers, but no place one could pump at all.
MCatLvrMom2A&X's Avatar MCatLvrMom2A&X 02:52 AM 09-12-2007
I hope she wins. She shouldnt have to compromise what she wants on this it should be them making the effort.
melissakc's Avatar melissakc 10:59 AM 09-12-2007
The irony here is overwhelming. It's a licensing exam for MEDICAL DOCTORS, who should know and care about this kind of thing! Hello?!
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 11:57 AM 09-12-2007
I live in MA, and Fox news reported it as her wanting to be able to nurse her baby every two hours, so I'm not sure what the exact story is.

Quote:
Personally, I think it would be a reasonable accomodation to let her have her 4 mo. with her and nursing in a sling WHILE she is taking the exam.
I disagree. What if her baby starts crying, laughing, or making other distracting sounds. How is that fair to the other test takers?

Quote:
Also, with all that's on the line, I think I'd be willing to risk engorgement by only pumping during the allotted breaks. She may not be able to empty them, but she should be able to relieve the pressure in a 10-15 min. pumping session if she's in practice (which she presumably is having bf'ed through med school). Not to mention eat and pump at the same time during her lunch break.
I agree with this. If pumping is her goal, then the breaks would allow her time to express some milk. And she could always put a WhisperWear pump in her bra. In that way, she could pump while taking the test and not be concerned with distracting the other test takers.
fek&fuzz's Avatar fek&fuzz 12:00 PM 09-12-2007
I think she might already be in a separate room from the other testers. She has already received permission to take the test over 2 days instead of one due to her ADHD, so she might not be in the same room with the others, since her schedule is different.
thismama's Avatar thismama 12:01 PM 09-12-2007
Yay!!!!!!! I hope she gets freaking rich. Good for her.
Ophelia's Avatar Ophelia 12:15 PM 09-12-2007
My DH read this article and wondered why one 45 minute break wasn't enough and why couldn't she eat while pumping : I said, you obviously have not pumped. No, I could not eat while pumping. It isn't enough time to eat, go to the bathroom, AND pump.

He asked me what I thought a reasonable solution would be. I said split up the test into 3 - 3 hour sessions. That way she can pump before and after each time. And when my baby was 3-4 months old I sure as heck needed to go to the bathroom more than once in a 9 hour timeframe!
mamabadger's Avatar mamabadger 12:28 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by melissakc View Post
The irony here is overwhelming. It's a licensing exam for MEDICAL DOCTORS, who should know and care about this kind of thing!
Oh, since when?! : It sounds all too typical of medical doctor attitude to me.
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 02:47 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
I think she might already be in a separate room from the other testers. She has already received permission to take the test over 2 days instead of one due to her ADHD, so she might not be in the same room with the others, since her schedule is different.

Good point.

I would really love to know the specifics about this. And, FTR, MA has no BFing legislation at.all. :
Momily's Avatar Momily 03:15 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ophelia View Post
My DH read this article and wondered why one 45 minute break wasn't enough and why couldn't she eat while pumping : I said, you obviously have not pumped. No, I could not eat while pumping. It isn't enough time to eat, go to the bathroom, AND pump.

He asked me what I thought a reasonable solution would be. I said split up the test into 3 - 3 hour sessions. That way she can pump before and after each time. And when my baby was 3-4 months old I sure as heck needed to go to the bathroom more than once in a 9 hour timeframe!
But it's not a 9 hour timeframe, it's a 4.5 hour timeframe on two consecutive days.

I have never pumped (or nursed for that matter) but I do wonder whether 1 45 minute break to pump, and eat something very fast (not a meal, but an energy bar or something) isn't enough for 4.5 hours.

Momily
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 03:42 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
But it's not a 9 hour timeframe, it's a 4.5 hour timeframe on two consecutive days.

I have never pumped (or nursed for that matter) but I do wonder whether 1 45 minute break to pump, and eat something very fast (not a meal, but an energy bar or something) isn't enough for 4.5 hours.

Momily

Not being able to pump for 4.5 hours would physically bother me, but it would be possible.
Momtwice's Avatar Momtwice 03:44 PM 09-12-2007
Good for her!
elanorh's Avatar elanorh 03:45 PM 09-12-2007
The other issue is that the 'extra' time she already has wasn't given to her for pumping or etc., it was given to her because she needs it per her diagnosed medical condition (ADD I think, I haven't read the article in awhile). It's not for pumping. It's the amount of time which is reasonable to allot to an individual, regardless of their lactation status, given her particular medical diagnosis.

She needs the lactation breaks on top of the other concessions which have been given her. And their refusal to give them to her is horrifying, but a good illustration of the lack of support which many in the medical field give to lactating mothers.
molarmama's Avatar molarmama 04:04 PM 09-12-2007
I don't know. I'm a dentist and took the national boards. There were people taking them that were still nursing very young babies. I didn't hear anyone complaining. I could eat, pump and pee in 45 minutes. Thats a BIG test. Those administrators are not lenient. And I really believe for good reason. She did choose this profession. She also chose to have children in the middle of med school. To me that would be a FAR bigger challenge than a 45 minute break. I certainly wouldn't sue over it.
Meg Murry.'s Avatar Meg Murry. 04:07 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravin View Post
Personally, I think it would be a reasonable accomodation to let her have her 4 mo. with her and nursing in a sling WHILE she is taking the exam.
With all due respect, this is not a reasonable accomodation.

Why?
1. The noise of a baby crying -- or making any noise -- is needlessly distracting to people taking a major, costly exam with a crucial impact on their careers.

2. An unscrupulous student would not hesitate to conceal answers in a sling.

Those are only two. I can think of more.
Meg Murry.'s Avatar Meg Murry. 04:08 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ophelia View Post
My DH read this article and wondered why one 45 minute break wasn't enough and why couldn't she eat while pumping : I said, you obviously have not pumped. No, I could not eat while pumping. It isn't enough time to eat, go to the bathroom, AND pump.

He asked me what I thought a reasonable solution would be. I said split up the test into 3 - 3 hour sessions. That way she can pump before and after each time. And when my baby was 3-4 months old I sure as heck needed to go to the bathroom more than once in a 9 hour timeframe!
I ate while pumping all the time. If not, I would have had to have given up one or the other.
ledzepplon's Avatar ledzepplon 06:27 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by molarmama View Post
I don't know. I'm a dentist and took the national boards. There were people taking them that were still nursing very young babies. I didn't hear anyone complaining. I could eat, pump and pee in 45 minutes. Thats a BIG test. Those administrators are not lenient. And I really believe for good reason. She did choose this profession. She also chose to have children in the middle of med school. To me that would be a FAR bigger challenge than a 45 minute break. I certainly wouldn't sue over it.
Yes. Why can't she pump in 45 minutes? That should be enough time to relieve extra pressure, if not empty her breasts. And can't she eat while doing so?

I give up a lot to take care of my kids. If she can't reach a compromise, why can't she just take the test at a later date? I guess I don't get it. It seems more of an entitlement issue than anything else to me.
nichole's Avatar nichole 06:31 PM 09-12-2007
I don't know what I think. But wouldn't it be great if we were given pumping breaks in all long exams like this. I'm thinking the FE, PE, the bar, and I'm sure there are others that last all day.
~MoonGypsy~'s Avatar ~MoonGypsy~ 06:43 PM 09-12-2007
She's already been accommodated in that she can take the normal 9 hour test over two days. If they were broken evenly that would be 4.5 hours day, with a 45 minute break. She shouldn't have to go more than 2 - 3 hours without pumping. While it may get uncomfortable for her, I don't see that as a long enough time frame to cause real medical issues, such as blocked ducts. The article also states that many pumping mothers are able to successfully complete the 9 hour test and pump at the same time.

On one hand I'm glad that she's causing a stir, because it brings the plight to people's attention, but on the other hand I don't really see that she has a valid issue.




ETA: The sueing mother also states "I can get away with pumping about every three hours.'' So what's the issue here?
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 06:47 PM 09-12-2007
There seems to be no issue. None that I can see anyway.
Sandstress's Avatar Sandstress 07:32 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by KirstenMary View Post
I agree with this. If pumping is her goal, then the breaks would allow her time to express some milk. And she could always put a WhisperWear pump in her bra. In that way, she could pump while taking the test and not be concerned with distracting the other test takers.
They don't even let you take chapstick in with you!
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 07:40 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandstress View Post
They don't even let you take chapstick in with you!

Well, everyone knows that answers can be written inside the cap!

Seriously, though, if the baby cannot take a bottle, I can see her issue. I'm not sure what I would do about it, but I can sympathize.

If the issue is pumping, stick a WW in her bra. Problem solved (if they would let her do that).
Sandstress's Avatar Sandstress 08:29 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ophelia View Post
My DH read this article and wondered why one 45 minute break wasn't enough

He asked me what I thought a reasonable solution would be. I said split up the test into 3 - 3 hour sessions. That way she can pump before and after each time. And when my baby was 3-4 months old I sure as heck needed to go to the bathroom more than once in a 9 hour timeframe!
The way this test runs, you can take 45 total minutes of break time in between blocks of questions, and organize them however you want. If you finish a block earlier than the allotted time, you can add that time to your total break time.

She's already getting a second day to take a one day test, and now she's asking for yet another allowance. I'm wondering what kind of medicine she's intending on practicing- in some situations, there just isn't the possiblity of such allowances.
destinybound's Avatar destinybound 08:34 PM 09-12-2007
in case you have not seen the NYT article....

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/he...?ref=education
KirstenMary's Avatar KirstenMary 09:17 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by destinybound View Post
in case you have not seen the NYT article....

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/10/he...?ref=education
I think she is being unreasonable.
Momily's Avatar Momily 09:28 PM 09-12-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by KirstenMary View Post
Not being able to pump for 4.5 hours would physically bother me, but it would be possible.
But would 45 minutes be long enough to pump -- or 40 since she might need a bathroom break and to scarf down a handful of nuts and bottle of water.

Is 40 minutes enough to relieve engorgement?

As to what kind of medicine, my understanding is she's an MD/PhD planning on going into research, so it's very plausible she'd be able to come up with a reasonable pumping schedule unlike say a neurosurgeon or an E.R. doctor.
ccohenou's Avatar ccohenou 09:36 PM 09-12-2007
Okay, 9 hours of test and 45 minutes of breaks: She can test for 2 hrs 15 minutes, pump for 15 minutes, and repeat. Better get one of those pump-holding bras so she can eat at the same time. 2 hrs is NOT too long to go without pumping.

Is it that she's getting 18 hours to take the test due to her learning disabilities, but still only 45 minutes of breaks?
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