July 29, 2021
In collaboration with the College’s Resident and Associate Society, the Young Fellows Association, the Women in Surgery Committee, and the Association of Women Surgeons, the ACS Board of Regents recently developed and approved an updated statement on parental leave policy for surgical trainees on August 11, 2020, following its June meeting.
This statement addresses standard policies of parental leave for both women and men in surgical training who require time away from clinical activities to accommodate childbearing or adoption needs. In conjunction with a statement recently released by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and an anticipated statement on this topic from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the ACS statement is expected to provide guidance to surgical training programs with the goal of promoting the well-being of trainees.
The ACS recognizes that a successful surgical career should not preclude a surgeon’s choice to be a parent. This issue is particularly pertinent to surgical trainees who have relatively long residency programs that occur during peak childbearing and family development years. Surgeons and surgical trainees who choose to have children (whether through a pregnancy of the surgeon or the surgeon’s partner, a surrogate, or adoption) have made an equivalent commitment and investment in their surgical careers as individuals who chose to forgo having children. Choosing to become a parent does not detract from one’s full professional commitment or ability to train as a surgeon. The ACS is supportive of healthy pregnancy outcomes and emphatically condemns imposition of punitive repercussions or bias toward surgeons who choose to have children.
Parental leave terms should be explicitly included in all resident and fellow contracts.
The ACS strongly urges each American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Surgical Specialty Board and each Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Surgical Specialty Residency Review Committee (RRC) to develop clear and consistent policies regarding parental leave. These policies should provide appropriate allowances for parental leave time as suggested in this statement. The ACS also urges the surgical boards and RRCs to frame these policies to allow parental leave time without requiring additional training time unless time away from training extends the six weeks prescribed in the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Furthermore, the ACS urges the surgical boards and RRCs to collaborate in developing functionally similar policies that allow equitable application and individual impact across specialties and programs.
The following guidelines provide a framework for parental leave policies:
The following guidelines offer a framework for support of a pregnant trainee and workplace accommodations: