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MUSC dean addresses maternity leave policy in faculty email, says concerns are 'legitimate'

MUSC dean addresses maternity leave policy in faculty email, says concerns are ‘legitimate’

The dean of the medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina underscored in an email to faculty members on Tuesday that they are valued, that they should be treated fairly and that changes to the hospital’s existing medical leave policy are forthcoming. 

Dean Raymond DuBois specifically addressed concerns raised by multiple female doctors last week about MUSC’s maternity leave policy. The doctors told The Post and Courier that the existing rules discriminate against women because doctors are held accountable to personal productivity goals during their time away from the hospital. One of the doctors said she consulted a lawyer and will consider taking legal action against MUSC. 

The newspaper granted the doctors anonymity for fear of retribution at work. On Tuesday, two of them said they found the email from DuBois generally supportive, but doubted that any new policy would fully compensate female physicians during maternity leave. 

DuBois, who was not available to answer questions about the policy on Friday, wrote in the email to faculty that changes will be announced by March 30. He said the new rules will apply retroactively to faculty members who took leave after July 1, 2017, but his email did not specify what those rules will look like. 

He acknowledged that concerns about the existing leave policy are “legitimate.” 

“We at the College of Medicine want our faculty members to be able to take maternity and family leave when necessary and to be assured that their salaries and promotions will not be impacted inappropriately as a result,” DuBois wrote. “The article implies that MUSC is not a friendly environment for the advancement of female faculty. I have now been COM Dean for two years and I can promise you that the women in positions of leadership here — deans, ICCE leaders, department chairs, and division chiefs — are outstanding faculty, leaders and mentors. Not only do I want to retain them, I believe we need more of them.”

One female doctor said his email sounded supportive, but she worried that women may still not receive full pay during maternity leave, even after the changes are implemented. 

“I feel like it would have been really easy to do the right thing months and months ago when this problem was identified,” she said. 

Another female physician agreed. She said DuBois “still provides no assurance that maternity leave will be fully protected.”