Perceived impact of resident work hour limitations on medical student clerkships: a survey study

Reshma Jagsi, Jo Shapiro, Debra F Weinstein
Academic Medicine 2005, 80 (8): 752-7

PURPOSE: To assess medical students' perceptions of the impact of recent Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education policies limiting resident work hours on students' clerkship experiences, resident teaching, and quality of patient care.

METHOD: In May/June 2003 and May/June 2004, an original questionnaire was administered to 252 medical students completing required clinical rotations at two teaching hospitals to assess students' perceptions of endpoints that might be affected by resident work hours limits. Response data were analyzed to determine statistical significance of differences between the two years studied.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were completed by 129 students in 2003 (98%) and 112 students in 2004 (93%), for an overall response rate of 96%. A higher proportion of students perceived limits on work hours in 2004 [46 (41%)] than 2003 [36 (28%), p = .03]. Ratings of resident availability and primary resident's interest in teaching improved in 2004. Otherwise, ratings of the interest, skill, and availability of resident teachers and attending physicians remained stable between 2003 and 2004. Students reported spending similar amounts of time in formal teaching sessions and rated feedback similarly between 2003 and 2004. In 2004, fewer students [28 (25%)] reported considering leaving medicine due to long hours in training than in 2003 [49 (38%), p = .04]. No significant differences in the proportion of students reporting suboptimal care were found [44 (34%) in 2003, 34 (35%) in 2004, p = .57].

CONCLUSION: This small, early study suggests that reductions in resident work hours might be implemented without a significant negative impact upon medical students' self-assessed learning experiences, and that limiting resident work hours may even have a positive impact on medical students.

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