"Is she going to have the answers written on the side of the breast pump? I don't think so," said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who has spent the past 15 years educating the medical profession about breast-feeding through the Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine, an organization she helped create. "If she can't pump it, that could put her milk supply at risk and definitely make things very uncomfortable for her. They say nursing is not on the ADA list. Well, a lot of things aren't on the ADA list."
Lawrence also wonders who is ultimately responsible for the policies at the National Board of Medical Examiners. "I don't know if this is a doctor making decisions or more of a bureaucrat." The NBME is listed as a nonprofit organization. The approximately 80 people on the board aren't listed on the organization's Web site, and a spokesperson declined to provide names of the members.
Currier's plight has not only got medical professionals talking, it's generating opinionated posts on Internet message boards.
On MomMD, female med students have been sharing their pumping horror stories -- failed batteries, pumping in supply closets and delayed tests causing pumping panic. KL writes: "By the end of my Step CS (medical exam) I was almost in tears." She advises to "Test your pump equipment early -- and have several back-up plans (I did not have a car-charger for my pump!)."
Rock_See, however, thinks this is much ado about nothing. "It was uncomfortable, but I did it and it didn't kill me."
On Boston.com, the message board about Currier's plight has logged more than 3,000 page views -- no other issue even comes close to that many views. One comment reads: "Get over yourself. Breast-feeding doesn't entitle you to special treatment." And another woman writes: "I think professional women who whine about things like this give the rest of us a bad name."
Currier is now in a time crunch because she has to take the exam before she begins her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in November. And she has already failed the exam once. The NBME is accommodating her dyslexia by giving her two days to finish the test instead of one. But for a nursing mother, that's just double the trouble.
For her part, Lea spends her days like most infants -- eating and sleeping -- blissfully unaware of the controversy swirling around her.