Provision of Onsite Childcare in US Academic Health Centers: What Factors Make a Difference?

Published:November 10, 2021DOI:



      Challenges to work-life balance, including childcare, have been cited as major barriers to career advancement for women in academic medicine.


      We performed a cross-sectional study to investigate the availability of onsite childcare at academic health centers (AHCs) for US medical schools and examined institutional characteristics associated with its provision. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) were used to identify US medical schools by region, type (private vs. public, community-based vs. not), financial relationship to the university, and numbers of female medical students, faculty, chairs, and deans. We assessed onsite childcare from publicly available information on institutional websites, plus phone calls to human resources departments at medical centers and/or medical schools.


      Our study identified 144 US medical schools from the AAMC database and collected complete data for 136 (95%). Most AHCs offered onsite childcare (62%, 84/136). AHCs in the Midwest (78%) were most likely to have onsite childcare, whereas AHCs in the Southwest were least likely (14%, p < .001). No associations were demonstrated between onsite childcare and the proportion of female chairs or female faculty, or the AHC's financial relationship with the parent university.


      Although accessible childcare is critical to the upward mobility of women in medicine, more than a third of AHCs do not offer onsite childcare. As more women in medicine navigate childcare demands, the expansion of accessible, quality onsite childcare at AHCs is needed to promote a diverse academic workforce.
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      Valerie A. French, MD, MAS, is an associate professor with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. Her research interests include women's reproductive health care and women in medicine.


      Jackie L. Werner, MD, is a physician with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at North Kansas City Hospital in North Kansas City, MO. Her resident research explored childcare at academic health centers.


      Emily J.H. Feng, MD, is a resident physician with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. Her research has explored emergency contraception and childcare at academic health centers.


      R. Aurelia Latimer, MD, is a resident physician with the Department of Family Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. Her research has explored access to childcare at academic health centers.


      Sharon F. Wolff, MPH, is a research instructor with the Department of Population Health, University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. Her research focuses on preventive services, with a particular interest in smoking cessation and vaccinations.


      Carrie L. Wieneke, MD, is chair and associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. Her research interests include resident education and women in medicine.