Use these tips to forge the best relationship and foster the best work environment you can during a tough but exciting time in your life.
"You shouldn't ever be made to feel like a second-class employee, and you should never apologize for a pregnancy," says Dr. Karen Felsted, MBA, MS, CVPM, a consultant with Brakke Consulting in Dallas. "And don't feel guilty about taking the time off. But you need to acknowledge that it's hard on a practice to lose you. And you should do what you can to make it as easy as possible on you and your practice—and on the next female associate who has a baby, too." For example:
"Keep in mind, legally your practice can't treat you any differently than a person with a short-term disability," says Dr. Felsted. "Your boss can't fire you. And if your boss is reacting really badly, you'd have grounds to sue. Unfortunately, if that's the case, that's probably not somewhere you'd want to work anyway."
"Also, if you're pregnant at the time you're interviewing or being hired, you should say so," says Dr. Felsted. "Legally you're not obligated to, but it's a matter of fairness. If you don't you're creating the worst possible position for the next woman applying for a job at the practice." And if you do get hired, co-workers will remember that you weren't up-front. That doesn't create the right kind of work environment.
"If you're the behavior or ultrasound expert, you might train someone else to do the basics while you're gone," she says. "And you might offer to consult with the other doctors by phone about cases or read ultrasound images from home. You could do these things without totally disrupting your leave."
With more and more women in the field, chances are one of your co-workers will have a child, too. You'll probably all help each other at some point, says Dr. Felsted, "and that approach creates stability.