General Surgery Re-entry to Residency After Hiatus

Policy regarding re-entering surgical residency following a hiatus of four or more years.

This policy applies to individuals who withdrew from surgical residency training and had a hiatus of four or more years before entering another residency, during which time they were not engaged in any structured academic surgical activity. It does not apply to individuals who had a leave of absence from a residency due to research or other activity and subsequently returned to complete training in the same residency program.

Re-entry Process

Residents who had a hiatus during their residency training may be expected to have experienced some degradation of knowledge and skills during that time. Any hiatus and re-entry in which the individual has been absent from residency training for four or more years must therefore be reviewed by the ABS Education & Training Committee and approved if they are to qualify for certification at completion of training. Failure to obtain such approval may result in refusal to admit the individual to the certification process despite completion of five years of accredited training.

Program directors who wish to accept such residents into their program should enroll them for a minimum five-month trial period to evaluate their clinical skills and training level. The trial period will not count toward the 60 months of training required for certification. During the trial period, residents should be functioning at the proposed PGY level to which they will be admitted to determine if their surgical knowledge and operative and clinical management skills are appropriate to that level.

Based on this trial period, the program should make a judgment as to the most appropriate level for re-entry to clinical training. Residents may never be accepted at the PGY-5 level, and at a minimum must complete both the PGY-4 and PGY-5 years at the same institution.

These residents must also take the ABSITE to evaluate their knowledge of surgical subjects, and should achieve a score at the 30th percentile level or better for their proposed PGY year of training to demonstrate their competency for proceeding at this level.

Requesting Approval

At the conclusion of the trial period, program directors should send by mail or fax (not email) an official report to the ABS president and chief executive officer providing the results of this trial period and the ABSITE score for the same year, requesting approval for the resident to enter the program at the desired level. Such approval should normally be requested by June 1 of that year, so it may be acted on at the June meeting of the Education & Training Committee, allowing the resident to enter the program on July 1 at the appropriate level.

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

Updated: September 2023

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