Do Hospitals Have Daycares for Residents?

As many of you know, the residency match can be completely unpredictable. Some graduating medical students move closer to family, while others might have to move several states away from home.

The latter scenario can definitely be a challenge if you have kids, which may lead you to question—do hospitals have daycares for residents to use?

What do you do if you have children, a spouse who works, and you’re far away from home? And how can you find quality, affordable childcare that will accommodate the intense schedule of a resident?

It might seem impossible, but it’s not. Here are a few of your best options.

5 Childcare Options You Can Use During Residency

  1. Use a Day Care Affiliated With a Hospital
  2. Hire an Au Pair
  3. Seek Out Flexible Jobs
  4. Consider Living Apart
  5. Build Your Own Village

1. Use a Day Care Affiliated With a Hospital

Many hospitals have daycares on campus, ones that are familiar with the unpredictable schedules of physicians. These daycares tend to open early and stay open late.

If you’re still in medical school and you know you want to have children in residency (or already do have children), factor this into your residency program research.

Find out which hospitals have daycares on-site, what their hours are, and what would happen if you need them to watch your children later than usual.

Many hospitals offer a reduced rate on childcare costs for employees who use their on-site daycares, making it a great option for many residents.

2. Hire an Au Pair

An au pair is a nanny who lives in your home from another country for a set time period, usually a year.

Plenty of agencies can match you with an au pair. Some of the most popular ones are:

Hiring an au pair could also present you with a great opportunity for your children to learn a second language early on.

Au pairs can work flexible hours up to a certain amount each week. So if you have to work on a Sunday but you’re off on a Monday because you’re post-call, you can ask your au pair to work only on the days you need them.

You may have to provide food, housing, and some educational costs for your au pair. Before making this decision, sit down and run the numbers, comparing the cost of hiring an au pair to the cost of putting your children in daycare.

Chances are, if you have more than one child, hiring an au pair can be a wise financial choice.

3. Seek Out Flexible Jobs

My friend Catherine Alford is the wife of a second-year resident and the mother of 3-year-old boy/girl twins. Cat spent time building a blog in hopes of of becoming self-employed when she became a parent.

Today, her blog and freelance writing business produce a full-time income, but she only pays for 25 hours of childcare a week.

Because she can work when her young children nap and after they fall asleep at night, she’s been able to manage her freelance clients while being a mom, too.

I personally enjoy being an entrepreneur because of the flexible hours. I can speak with my physician clients in the morning, pick up my son from preschool, and work more at night after my children go to sleep. My wife and I have found a way for her to pursue her career as a pediatric pulmonologist and for me to grow my financial planning practice.

Ultimately, the residency lifestyle isn’t an easy one, but if a non-physician spouse can find a way to build a flexible career or work remotely for a company, that can go a long way in reducing childcare costs.

4. Consider Living Apart

While living apart from your spouse and kids isn’t ideal, sometimes it might be necessary. I know a married couple who are both residents. The husband pre-matched in psychiatry in New York City, which guaranteed him a residency spot.

However, his wife wanted to match general surgery. Knowing how unpredictable their schedules would be with two residents in the family, his wife purposely ranked programs in her home state of Florida first.

She matched in Miami, where her mother and extended family helped take care of their child.

Now, they’re in their second year of living apart. While it isn’t easy, they’re surviving. Ultimately, these are the hard decisions some families have to make to ensure their kids get quality childcare during the grueling training years.

5. Build Your Own Village

Lastly, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Many people in your area have a spouse and children while enduring residency. It’s important to build a village when you’re not close to your own family.

I’ve befriended many men via the DMD Facebook page, a private Facebook group for dads married to doctors. There are similar private Facebook groups for women. One popular one is called Lives of Drs Wives.

You can even form your own spouse’s group at your local hospital. By meeting other people married to doctors, you can work together, exchange babysitting for those rare date nights, and get recommendations for nannies, babysitters, and daycares from residents who are further along in their journey.

Residency can be very isolating, so be sure to tap into your village to connect with people who are living similar lives to yours.

Physician’s Take

Finding quality and reasonably priced childcare can be challenging for anyone. That’s especially true for residents with chaotic schedules and jobs that may pull them far from home.

Fortunately, you have options. Research your hospital’s childcare options, compare the cost of hiring someone to nanny, rely on friends and family (if you can), and build a village where you are to help you navigate the challenges of residency while ensuring your kids are cared for.