McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University

Time Away From Training

Any of the permissible leaves of absence listed below, if excessive, may lead to the necessity to extend training beyond the final year in order to make up training time. Most specialty certifying boards have limits on the duration of absence from training that may not be exceeded if the individual is to be eligible to sit for the certifying examination. Even if there is no certifying board restriction regarding the duration of absence, a housestaff member may be required to extend training if total leave for any reason in any one training year exceeds that allotted to vacation, education, and sick leave (6 weeks in total). During the extension of training, the housestaff member will receive a stipend and benefits except that vacation time will not accrue. If training is extended to make up for time spent on short-term disability, the stipend provided during training extension will be at the PGY level during which short-term disability was taken.

 Vacation Leave

Housestaff members receive three weeks of paid vacation in the PGY-1 year and four weeks of paid vacation per year for the PGY-2 and subsequent training years. Vacation time cannot be accrued and carried over to the following year of training. Vacations should be scheduled and approved by the Program Director; changes also must be approved by the Program Director. To encourage wellness and well-being, all housestaff are expected to use all vacation days each year.  

Terminal vacations, that is vacations taken at the conclusion of one's program in order to hasten the date of program completion, require written approval of the Program Director and notification of the GME office.

 Sick Leave

Each housestaff member is allowed 10 days of paid sick leave per appointment year. The use of sick days is for the sickness or injury of the McGaw housestaff member or to care for sick or injured family members. Sick days may also be used for bereavement.  All absences due to sickness or injury should be reported to the Program Director. Any injury or illness incurred as a result of activities directly related to the training assignment should be reported promptly to Payroll and Benefits at 888-449-0016 or so that a workers' compensation report may be filed. Disabling injury or illness extending beyond 10 days is covered by disability insurance and/or workers' compensation. Sick leave does not accrue from one year to the next year.

If a Housestaff member requires more than 10 sick days, then the Housestaff member will be eligible for short-term disability (STD).  STD is paid at the rate of 60% of regular stipend. STD requires physician certification prior to or as quickly as possible following start of leave.  Housestaff must personally arrange for STD with McGaw Payroll & Benefits. Failure to personally notify McGaw Payroll & Benefits will result in having to repay all overpaid funds.  Additionally, the Housestaff member must personally update McGaw Payroll & Benefits with pending return to work date or need for additional time off.  Short term disability will last a maximum of 90 days after which the trainee may apply for long term disability by contacting McGaw Payroll & Benefits.  Short term and long term disability will be used for leaves that are either trainee initiated or implemented as the result of a fitness for duty evaluation mandated by McGaw.

Trainees will be released from clinical duties to go to doctor appointments with appropriate frequency.  Trainees should notify the program of scheduled appointments as early as possible to allow for coverage.  For some health issues that require frequent appointments, leave may be required to accommodate scheduling.  

 Educational Leave

Housestaff members in the second or any subsequent year of training are encouraged to present the results of their research/scholarly endeavors at educational meetings. McGaw allows five days of sub/specialty-related medical education time per academic year for each trainee to attend and/or present at Program Director-approved educational conference. The choice of educational meeting, the content of the presentation, and the number of such presentations must be made in consultation with and the approval of the Program Director, and the duration of absence(s) must not impact patient care. These days are beyond trainees’ vacation days. 

The meeting must be located within the continental United States. As stated above, the time away will be granted in addition to vacation leave, however, excess days must be considered vacation time. Full stipends and benefits are provided during educational meetings.  

Attendance at educational meetings for which the housestaff member is not making a presentation is permitted at the discretion of the Program Director.  

 Family and Medical Leave

McGaw Medical Center provides qualified Housestaff with leave pursuant to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and applicable state laws which may provide more generous benefits. The FMLA does not supersede any state or local law which provides greater family or medical leave protection.

Each Housestaff member who has been enrolled in a McGaw graduate medical education program for 12 months or more (which need not be consecutive) and who has provided at least 1,250 hours of service as part of such graduate medical education program during the 12 months prior to the commencement of leave, may be entitled to unpaid leave, not to exceed 12 weeks in a rolling 12-month period (not to exceed 26 weeks for military caregiver leave).

Eligible housestaff may request unpaid family or medical leave.  Examples of reasons for this leave include: their own serious health conditions, caring for a child, spouse, domestic partner or parent with a serious health condition, extending a maternity leave, or upon adoption or initiation of foster care. The total length of leave is limited to 12 weeks even if it is used in conjunction with short-term disability, but may be requested for a shorter duration.  

A housestaff member granted Family and Medical Leave may first use any accrued vacation time before taking unpaid leave. Alternatively, unpaid leave may be initiated at the beginning of Family and Medical Leave.  The use of accrued vacation time before starting unpaid leave does not extend the limit of 12 weeks.  All time spent for unpaid leave must be made up by extension of training.

If a housestaff member is on leave because of his/her own serious health condition, McGaw will require a submission of a doctor's written certification that the individual is not able to perform training activities without restrictions. Failure to provide such certification may result in the housestaff member being ineligible for reinstatement in his/her program.

There are very specific eligibility and reporting requirements which should be reviewed carefully by any housestaff member contemplating a request for Family and Medical Leave. A Request for Family and Medical Leave form must be completed and approved by the Program Director. The form and additional information is provided online by McGaw Payroll and Benefits. If a housestaff member fails to meet the eligibility and reporting requirements, the request for leave may be denied or delayed.

 Maternal Leave

For a vaginally delivered or C-section birth, a mother is entitled to six weeks off after delivery.  The first two weeks (14 calendar days total) are considered Parental Leave and covered at full pay.  From there the trainee has options as to how the six-week leave is composed.   

 If the trainee chooses to utilize all remaining sick time following Parental Leave, the balance of the six weeks can be made up with short-term disability (STD) benefits providing 60 percent of the usual stipend or a combination of STD benefits and any/all vacation days remaining in her bank for her appointment year.  The use of vacation days will provide 100 percent of the usual stipend for those days. 

 A mother in-training not planning to use STD benefits, has the option of utilizing her vacation days to cover all or part of the six weeks of leave following the first two weeks of Parental Leave.  Likewise, she can choose to apply a combination of her sick and vacation days at 100 percent of the usual stipend for those days. 

If her physician does not release her to return to work after six weeks and she has already utilized all of her sick days for the appointment year, she will either transition to or remain on STD until her physician certifies that she is capable of returning to duty.  If time off is necessary before delivery, sick leave is used first and, if short-term disability coverage then is required, a physician's certification is necessary. 

If her physician releases her to return to work after six weeks, but she wishes to extend the leave further, she may then request leave of absence without stipend or use vacation time or a combination of both for up to a total 12 weeks. 

The GME office must be promptly notified in advance of an anticipated birth or adoption date. A Request for Family and Medical Leave form must be completed and approved by the Program Director. The form, notification requirements, and additional information regarding maternity leave are all available from McGaw Payroll and Benefits. 

It is the responsibility of the housestaff member to confirm, before the onset of leave, with the Program Director, the ACGME Program Specific Guidelines, and ABMS specialty board any time requirements for adequate completion of training in their specialty. Time spent on leave does not count toward training. The end of training date may need to be extended to comply with the above.

 Parental Leave

Any housestaff member with a new child is entitled to two weeks off (14 calendar days total) at full pay as Parental Leave. Additionally, a housestaff member may opt to use vacation time if they wish to receive 100 percent of their stipend and extend their leave, but the duration is limited to vacation time remaining for the year. If a housestaff member wishes to extend the leave further (not to exceed 12 weeks), they may request leave of absence without stipend by way of Family and Medical Leave.   

With all leaves, it is the responsibility of the housestaff member to confirm, before the onset of leave, with the Program Director, the ACGME Program Specific Guidelines, and ABMS specialty board any time requirements for adequate completion of training in their specialty. Time spent on leave does not count toward training. The end of training date may need to be extended to comply with the above.

 Jury Duty

When a housestaff member is selected for jury duty, s/he must notify their Program Director and Coordinator.  

 Military Leave

Housestaff members receiving McGaw stipend checks are granted a leave of absence of up to 30 days per year for regularly scheduled military training. Military leave cannot be counted as vacation time. If the military pay is less than the usual stipend, the housestaff member will be paid the difference. If the military pay is equal to or greater than the McGaw stipend, no check will be issued for the time of military training. Housestaff members should inform the GME office of the dates of military training in advance. In the event of a civil or national crisis exceeding 30 days, the housestaff member will be placed on a leave of absence without pay. He or she will be eligible for all rights and benefits provided by federal and state laws.