Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Understanding pre-residency abortion training pathways and career choices in the United States: a qualitative study


Background Many factors contribute to the decision to provide abortion in the United States. We aim to describe pre-residency experiences and decisions that contribute to choosing a career as an abortion provider in the United States.

Methods We conducted 60-min semi-structured telephone interviews with 34 current abortion care providers about their career trajectories, decision-making and planning. Interviews were transcribed and coded by three members of the research team using thematic analysis.

Results A majority of the participants considered (73.5%, n=25) and firmly committed (62.8%, n=22) to providing abortion care prior to entering residency. They described important professional experiences with women’s health and reproductive rights, as well as personal experiences with abortion care, all of which inspired them to seek out abortion training during medical school and residency. Participants also described a dearth of mentors or role models until late in training, especially for family physicians.

Conclusions Our study suggests that the decision to provide abortion care is often made prior to residency training, before or during medical school, so additional support may be needed to promote exposure to abortion care during undergraduate medical education or even before. Further, there is a need for improved mentorship and role modelling during these periods, especially for family physicians. This may be especially critical after the overturn of Roe v Wade, as medical schools in restrictive states may not be able to provide abortions to patients, depriving students of role models who are abortion providers.

  • Abortion, Therapeutic
  • abortion, induced
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • family planning services
  • qualitative research

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Anonymous data are available upon reasonable request. All identifying characteristics have been removed to protect the participants' anonymity.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.