Medical student sues for exam breaks to pump breast milk

Filed under: Just For Moms, Your Pregnancy, Work Life, Health & Safety: Babies

Sophie Currier has clearly worked hard to get to where she is. In the past two years, she has completed her joint M.D./Ph.D. program at Harvard and become a mother twice over. She's working towards a career in medical research and now must pass a licensing exam to secure her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. But because the 33-year-old mother is nursing her 4-month-old daughter, she has requested extra breaks during the exam to pump breast milk. After the National Board of Medical Examiners refused her request , Currier asked the Superior Court in Massachusetts to settle the dispute. An attorney for the board has now filed a notice to have the case moved to federal court.

"If we are variable in the time that's allotted to trainees, we alter the performance of the examination," board spokeswoman Dr. Ruth Hoppe said. She also says that other nursing mothers taking the exam have found the 45 minutes of break time to be enough.

The nine-hour test is normally taken in one day, but Currier, who suffers from dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has been given special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and will take the test over two days. She's asking for an extra 60 minutes each day to pump breast milk, citing her fears of becoming engorged or developing blocked milk ducts or mastitis. "I can get away with pumping about every three hours," she said.

Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section, calls the board's refusal "a classic institutional response." Currently, federal anti-discrimination laws do not protect nursing mothers,although The Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which is pending in Congress, would give them some protection from being fired or punished at work for nursing or pumping during breaks.

It seems to me if they can accommodate Currier's needs due to dyslexia and ADHD, they should be able to accommodate her need to maintain her health and feed her child.

ReaderComments (Page 1 of 1)


Flickr RSS



AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.