ACR commissions call for family leave for all radiologists

More attention is being paid to the deficient family leave policies in the U.S., which lag behind other developed countries and were called out by President Barack Obama in the latest State of the Union address. A pair of commissions from the American College of Radiology want to make sure radiologists are included in this discussion.

In a comment published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, members from the ACR Commission for Women and General Diversity and the ACR Commission on Human Resources called for making it a professional priority to extend family leave to all radiologists and radiation oncologists.

“Because many practices and academic departments have not yet enacted family leave policies, our commissions propose that members seek financially feasible methods of providing family medical leave to all eligible diagnostic radiologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists, including residents, via written, accessible leave policies consonant with federal law and modern employment practices,” wrote Elizabeth Kagan Arleo, MD, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues.

Commission members noted that radiology is failing to attract women into residency programs at the same rates as competing specialties, and suggested this pointed to a need for more flexible scheduling.

Arleo and colleagues noted that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care for newborns, newly adopted children, and family members with serious health conditions, as well as cover needs that arise from military family members going on active duty. Residents and fellows can qualify for FMLA after they have worked for 12 months and completed the requisite number of hours.

The commission members noted the value that comes from supporting families, and specifically in radiology, it could help radiologists take leadership roles in the healthcare system, a focus under the Imaging 3.0 campaign.

“In [providing family leave], our practices become more inclusive and more productive, and they enjoy the benefits of radiologists who are respected by, valued by their radiologic enterprises, and hence committed to their radiologic enterprises; ultimately, this may translate into improved patient care as well,” they wrote.