Statement on Taking Stipends for Call

By the CAGS Professionalism Committee

The CAGS Professionalism Committee has been discussing a number of issues pertaining to surgeons and their transition to retirement. Our members have been speaking with several newly-retired surgeons as well as General Surgery residents who are concerned about their prospects for jobs in the future. We are looking at a number of options in order to link the newly-trained surgeon with the retiring surgeon in a form of mentorship. This may be beneficial to both ends of the career spectrum in General Surgery.

In the course of our inquiry and research, we became aware of a disturbing practice that seems to be occurring in several regions in Canada as a result of the desperation that some newly-trained surgeons are experiencing. Apparently, a number of senior surgeons are accepting payment from newly-trained surgeons to relinquish their on-call, while continuing to perform elective surgery.

The members of the CAGS Professionalism Committee are in unanimous agreement that the practice of a surgeon accepting payment from a junior colleague to relinquish call commitments is unethical and violates moral principles. The following considerations must be kept in mind:

  1. This practice permits a senior surgeon to take unfair advantage of his/her junior colleagues.
  2. This practice runs contrary to the principle of the senior surgeon facilitating and fostering the development of newly-trained colleagues.
  3. This practice fosters resentment among the generation of newly-trained surgeons.
  4. There appears to be an assumption that the on-call schedules and surgical resources are “owned” by the surgeon. They are not.

The members of the CAGS Professionalism Committee unanimously agree that the above practice must stop immediately.

Respectfully submitted by Cliff Yaffe, Chair of CAGS Professionalism Committee and supported by the CAGS Executive Committee.