Nursing mother gets extra time on medical licensing exam

January 9, 2008

A Massachusetts appeals court judge ruled that a Harvard medical student must be given extra time during her 9-hour licensing exam to express milk to feed her 4-month-old daughter. The ruling overturned a lower court’s decision and a refusal by the National Board of Medical Examiners to give Sophie Currier a 60-minute break to pump milk, instead of the standard 45-minute break.

A Massachusetts appeals court judge ruled that a Harvard medical student must be given extra time during her 9-hour licensing exam to express milk to feed her 4-month-old daughter. The ruling overturned a lower court’s decision and a refusal by the National Board of Medical Examiners to give Sophie Currier a 60-minute break to pump milk, instead of the standard 45-minute break.

Currie’s case received support from Alison Stuebe, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The New York Times (9/10/2007) reported that Stuebe’s affidavit noted that “45 minutes is insufficient time for a nursing mother of a 4-month-old to eat, drink, use the restroom, and to fully and properly express breast milk using an electric pump two times over the course of 8 hours.”

A state appeals court judge agreed: “Currier needs the extra time to put her on ‘equal footing’ with the men and non-lactating women who take the exam,” reported the Associated Press (9/26/07).