The College recognizes that a successful surgical career should not preclude a surgeon’s choice to be a parent. Sur- geons who choose to have children (whether through the
pregnancy of the surgeon or the surgeon’s partner, a surrogate,
or adoption) have made an equivalent commitment and investment in their surgical careers as those individuals who choose
not to have children. Choosing to become a parent does not
detract from one’s full professional commitment as a surgeon. As
a profession, surgery should be supportive of healthy pregnancy
outcomes and should not impose punitive repercussions on those
surgeons who choose to have children.
Parental leave terms should be explicitly included in all employment contracts. The following guidelines provide a framework for
a parental leave policy:
• The surgeon will inform appropriate team members of the pregnancy or anticipated adoption in a timely fashion to allow for
accommodation of anticipated absence from professional duties.
The team has a responsibility to support the medical needs of the
surgeon and to keep health care information confidential. The
surgeon will work together with the team to create a schedule
that is flexible and equitable for the surgeon taking leave and all
others who will be affected by the absence. Surgeons should not
be expected to make up for call missed during leave.
• The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 allows employees
to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain reasons, such as
the birth of the child, to care for a newly adopted child, or placement of the child with the individual for adoption, presuming the
surgeon is employed by an organization meeting the criteria of
the law and the surgeon meets the eligibility criteria for FMLA
and has FMLA time available. The ACS supports maternity leave
of no less than six weeks (vaginal delivery)/eight weeks (cesarean
section) and paternity leave of not less than six weeks.
Payment for parental leave should be negotiated between the
surgeon and the employer. If a surgical practice or employing
Statement on the importance
of parental leave
The following statement was developed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Women
in Surgery Committee to support surgeons who choose to have children. The ACS Board
of Regents approved the statement at its February 2016 meeting in Chicago, IL.
As a profession, surgery should
be supportive of healthy
pregnancy outcomes and
should not impose punitive
repercussions on those surgeons
who choose to have children.