Returning to Work

July 26, 2017 · Todd Coopee

A few weeks prior to your return to work, you should take care of the following:

  1. Contact your post-graduate medical education office and health authority to confirm your return date. You may also need to contact your human resources department to confirm your return date and ensure that payments are not delayed.
  2. Access to hospital computer systems may be cut off during your maternity leave. Therefore, contact your local IT department several weeks in advance of your return to get your passwords reset and restore access to clinical tools necessary for patient care.
  3. Call the Canadian Medical Protective Agency (CMPA) to resume your coverage.
  4. Contact your PHO if you need assistance setting up workplace accommodations.

Adjusting to Your Return to Work

When returning to work after maternity and/or parental leave, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You may also feel disconnected from your peers and you may feel that other residents do not relate to what you are going through.

Be assured that many residents have succeeded in this transition. Most provinces and universities have wellness offices that can help with the transition or any time issues arise. Returning to residency part-time is sometimes a possibility and may be worth exploring. Ask for help when you need it.

“The first month back will most likely be a HUGE adjustment period both at home and at work. It’s normal to feel totally overwhelmed, feeling like a terrible mom/wife/doctor on a regular basis, but this gets better with time! Be kind to yourself, spend lots of time with your kid(s) when you get home after work, and save the studying for after bedtime. And don’t forget self care! I have been very upfront with my current preceptor about my needs to pump, and to occasionally even go home to breast feed, and they have been more than accommodating.” – Samantha Reaume, Family Medicine


It is possible to continue nursing as you make the transition back to work. Having a double electric breast pump is helpful for pumping milk during the day in the shortest amount of time possible. Most pumps also come with freezer containers to store the milk if access to refrigeration is limited.

Hospitals are required to provide you with a space to pump. Still, some residents experience challenges finding a space to pump, and many organizations lack policies around breastfeeding. Some residents have found it helpful to contact one of the lactation consultants at the hospital where they are providing service to assist with getting access to a private space.

Transitioning to cow’s milk can be done at 9 months of age as per the Canadian Association of Pediatrics.

The following organization is a great resource for breastfeeding:


For many, obtaining reliable childcare is the most nerve-wracking part of the transition back to work. This is especially true for residents who lack family supports in the community in which they are training. Options for childcare include: daycares, day homes, foreign nannies, au pairs, local nannies, and nanny-on-call companies.

Daycares have long waiting lists and often require you put your name on a list more than one year in advance. Many have extended hours to accommodate university students and working parents. Pay attention to consequences for late fees if you are unable pick up your child on time. Note that some daycares will refuse to let your child attend if they are ill.

Day homes may be somewhat more flexible in terms of the hours to pick up your child. Some residents have had issues with day homes providing little notice for extra vacation time or days they will not be providing care. Note that not all day homes are regulated, although most provinces have regulatory agencies that accredit certain day homes.

Hiring a foreign nanny takes upwards of one year and has many upfront costs, such as $1,000 to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and flights to Canada. Many residents use an agency to assist with the process. These caregivers often assist with meal prep and light household cleaning. Their hours are often more flexible than daycares or day homes and alternate childcare doesn’t usually need to be found if the child is sick. However, nannies also get sick sometimes and you are required to provide vacation. Note that it is no longer legal to require your nanny to live in, after federal changes to the program in 2014.

Hiring an au pair is an option for temporary child care. Au pairs are often students looking for an exchange experience to another country and provide child care in exchange for accommodations. The hours an au pair will work are often more limited, and placements are more temporary.

Hiring a local nanny has the benefit that you can interview locally and in person. Rates for local nannies are often higher than for foreign nannies. Many foreign nannies look for work independently once their contracts end with their current employer. Some may require the LMIA mentioned above to legally work in Canada.

Some cities have nanny-on-call companies which can be useful in situations where your childcare falls through at the last moment:

Agencies that can help: