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New policies accommodate reasonable leaves of absence from radiology residency training programs

In a much-anticipated action on June 30, 2021, the certifying body in radiology, the American Board of Radiology (ABR), announced new policies on how much time off would be permitted for physicians-in-training during a radiology residency program without a requirement to extend training to remain eligible to take certifying examinations. 

Beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year, ABR policies will consider a resident eligible for initial certification without an extension of training when approved leave does not exceed an average of eight weeks (40 workdays) per academic year over the duration of the resident's training.

ABR stated that its policy is not intended to define the typical leave that a resident should expect a radiology residency program to provide. The Board provided examples of activities that are considered time off under its new policy, including vacation, bereavement leave, interview days, parental leave, caregiver leave, medical leave, and other leave approved by the residency program director. The policy also described activities that are not considered leave but, rather, part of a resident's training, such as research activities, attending scientific/educational programs, work performed remotely, and regular days off. 

In a post on the ABR website, ABR Board of Governors member Cheri L Canon, MD, clarified that the new policy should not be conflated with elements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While an important element of an individual’s rights in the workplace, FMLA does not address training requirements for board certification. ABR views its new policy to be consistent with protections provided by the FMLA.

Last year, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), of which ABR is a constituent certifying board, directed that each member board clearly define how much time off would be permitted during a residency in their respective specialties without a requirement to extend training.

Eligibility for Initial Certification requires the program director (PD) to attest to successful completion of the residency and competency. Irrespective of Time Off, PD should extend the length of training if a resident has not achieved competency.

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health care & life sciences, radiology, board certification, leave policies

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