Flexible Working

This Time Is Precious – Your Child Is Only Little For A Short While

Dr Sai Bhagra

I work as a consultant cardiologist with interests in advanced HF and cardiac transplantation at Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge. My role is a busy mix; covering the inpatient service, for those with advanced HF and after transplantation (including patients on ICU on pharmacological and/or mechanical circulatory support); performing endomyocardial biopsies and right heart catheter studies and reviewing outpatients with advanced heart failure and post-transplantation.

My wife, Catriona, and I trained in cardiology in the Northern Deanery. Prior to the birth of our daughter, we jointly decided to split the period of maternity leave. Catriona took the first six months, then returned to full time registrar training, whilst I had parental leave for the subsequent six months. I was the first male cardiology registrar in the Deanery to ask for shared maternity leave and was fortunate to have a highly supportive training program director.

I enjoyed a wonderful six months attending baby activity classes most days, often as the sole male parent! Sharing parental leave also allowed Catriona and I to minimise the gap in respective CCT dates. Thereafter, we relocated as a family to Toronto for our fellowships. Sharing childcare whilst both in full time training and covering various rotas was a juggle but not unsurmountable. At the end of our time in Canada we were both appointed to consultant posts in Cambridge and returned to the UK.

Balancing our professional responsibilities and childcare (with our growing family and number 2) has been challenging but we have made it work for us. Taking time off during training to look after our daughter was a wholly positive experience, and in no way detrimental to my career (nor my wife’s). I would encourage trainees who are thinking about taking parental leave to give this serious consideration. In the grand scheme of things, this time is precious – your child is little only for a short while, and the time spent watching them grow and develop always passes far too quickly.

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