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Parental Leave Policies Vary Across Specialty Boards

More consistency would give residents greater flexibility in career and family planning

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Restrictions on how long residents can take parental-leave breaks from training and still qualify for specialty board certification are not uniform, and current policies lack the flexibility working parents need, according to a report in the November issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Steven H. Rose, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues reviewed specialty board policies on parental leave, absence from training and board certification process entry requirements. The study covered all American Board of Medical Specialties programs enrolling more than 100 residents, and included an impact assessment of a six-week parental leave on extension of training and entry qualification for board certification.

Except for boards of neurosurgery, ophthalmology, psychiatry, neurology and thoracic surgery, all specialty boards have defined limits on absence from training. While absence limits across 21 residency programs were similar, there were differences that could impact residents' family-planning decisions, such as whether training absences accrued year to year. There was variation across specialties in terms of the impact of six weeks' parental leave, from delaying board certification for one year to having no impact at all.

"We encourage specialty boards to provide sufficient flexibility to allow standard parental leave, in addition to vacation, without altering the timing of qualification for the board certification examination system," the authors conclude.

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