Any parental leave plan utilized by a family medicine residency program must:
Safeguard the health of the parent and child,
Assure that the resident fulfills all educational requirements, and
Assure that the patient care is uninterrupted by the resident's absence.
There are a number of factors which will affect the specific provisions in a parental leave plan, and which must be taken into consideration in developing the plan. The factors include:
Compliance with Certifying Boards. The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has established requirements with respect to the amount of time a resident may be absent from his or her training program in any 12-month period and still retain eligibility to make application for the ABFM examination. The American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians’ (AOBFP) requirements may be different than those of the ABFM and have varied over time. The AOBFM staff should be consulted to ensure compliance with the relevant current requirements.
Some residency programs may be subject to various federal and state laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These laws may impose certain requirements on parental leave plans utilized by family medicine residency programs and may guarantee certain rights for residency programs and for residents taking parental leave.
Subject to applicable law, the AAFP recommends that the following be incorporated in residency programs parental leave plans:
Expectant mothers must be allowed the same sick leave or disability benefits as other residents.
Expectant partners and adoptive parents should be allowed the same leave or disability benefits as other residents.
The category of leave credited (sick, vacation, parental, short-term) should be specified.
Whether leave is paid or unpaid should be specified.
The minimum duration of parental leave for residents should be based on the written recommendations of the physician(s) caring for the resident and infant and/or state and federal laws.The resident should be encouraged to take the longest leave that is feasible for the resident and the program to enhance parent-infant bonding and facilitate breastfeeding initiation.
Residency programs are encouraged to allow residents to design home-study or reading electives which should comply with Review Committee - Family Medicine (RC-FM) requirements, for use around the estimated delivery date (EDD) or adoption and after delivery to minimize the time needed away from the residency. Such home study electives would be likely to include some Family Medicine Center (FMC) time weekly in order to meet RC-FM continuity requirements for the FMC.
The expectant or adoptive parent should notify the program director and those responsible for scheduling of rotations and call as soon as pregnancy or adoption is confirmed. Coverage of responsibilities during the leave should be arranged as early as possible.
Efforts should be made to schedule the most demanding rotations earlier in the pregnancy, allowing for the least strenuous rotations to be performed around the time of the resident's EDD.
The rotation performed around the time of the EDD or adoption should be one in which the resident is not essential to the service and which would allow time off without jeopardizing patient care or disadvantaging the other residents in the program.
The expectant or adoptive parent's call schedule should be arranged to have no call around the time of EDD or adoption and while on leave. The resident is expected to make up call before or after the leave, so other residents aren't disadvantaged.
Residents taking parental leave must be able to return to the residency within a reasonable period of time without loss of training status.
Provision for the continuation of the resident's insurance benefits during the leave should be made and who pays for the premiums should be specified.
Communication to each resident should be made regarding how the leave will impact the resident's graduation and ability to sit for the American Board of Family Medicine exam.
The mechanisms available for making up time, or extending or delaying training should be verified.
It should be verified if the extended training or make-up time will be paid.
The expectant or adoptive parent(s) should notify the program director and covering residents when labor and/or FMLA time begins.