Taking leave during residency

Leave Policy

General Requirements

  • The ABS requires 48 weeks of full-time clinical activity in each of the five years of residency, regardless of the amount of operative experience obtained. The remaining four weeks of the year are considered non-clinical time that may be used for any purpose.
  • To provide residency programs with some flexibility, the 48 weeks may be averaged over the first three years of residency, for a total of 144 weeks required in the first three years, and over the last two years, for a total of 96 weeks required in the last two years. Thus non-clinical time may be reduced in one year to allow for additional non-clinical time in another year.
  • All time away from clinical activity (i.e., non-clinical time), including vacation and time taken for interviews, visa issues, etc., must be accounted for on the application for certification.

Leave During a Standard Five-Year Residency

  • For documented medical conditions, including pregnancy and delivery, that directly affect the individual (i.e., not family leave), residents may take an additional two weeks off during the first three years of residency, for a total of 142 weeks required, and an additional two weeks off during the last two years of residency, for a total of 94 weeks required.
  • Other arrangements, beyond the standard medical leave described above, require prior written approval from the ABS. Such requests may only be made by the program director and must be sent by mail or fax on official letterhead to the ABS office (no emails).
    Program directors: When making a request, please include in your letter a complete schedule of the resident's training, with calendar dates, including all leave time.

Six-Year Option

  • If permitted by the residency program, the five clinical years of residency training may be completed over six academic years. All training must be completed at a single program with advance approval from the ABS. In this option, an average of 48 weeks of full-time training is required in each clinical year as explained above. The first 12 months of clinical training would be counted as PGY-1, the second 12 months as PGY-2, and so forth. No block of clinical training may be shorter than one month (four weeks).
  • Under this option, a resident may take up to 12 months off during the six-year training period. The resident would first work with his or her program to determine an appropriate leave period or schedule. The program would then request approval for this plan from the ABS; requests must be sent by mail or fax on official letterhead to the ABS office (no emails).
  • Use of the six-year option is solely at the program's discretion, and contingent on advance approval from the ABS. The option may be used for any purpose approved by the residency program, including but not limited to, family issues, visa issues, medical problems, maternity leave, external commitments, volunteerism, pursuit of outside interests, educational opportunities, etc.

For questions regarding this policy, please contact the ABS coordinator.

Updated: September 2015

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