Taking leave during residency

Leave Policy

  • The ABS approved in 2009 a new policy, that in addition to the standard medical leave, gives general surgery residency programs the option of permitting the five years of general surgery training to be completed over a six-year period. The six-year option is intended to provide programs with greater flexibility in allowing residents time away from training to pursue other activities or address medical or family issues.

General Requirements

  • All applicants must complete 48 weeks of full-time clinical activity in each of the five years of residency, regardless of the amount of operative experience obtained. To provide 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 of residency, for a total of 96 weeks required in the last two years. All time away from clinical activity must be accounted for on the application form.

Leave During a Standard Five-Year Residency

  • For documented medical problems or maternity leave, residents may take an additional two weeks off during the first three years of residency, for a total of 142 weeks required in the first three years of training, and an additional two weeks off during the last two years of residency, for a total of 94 weeks required in the last two years of training.
  • Unused vacation or leave time cannot be applied to reduce the amount of full-time experience required per year without prior written permission from the ABS. Such requests may only be made by the program director and must be mailed on official letterhead to the ABS office (no emails or faxes).
    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 mailed on official letterhead to the ABS office (no emails or faxes).
  • 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: March 2013

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