Cumulative operative experience is decreasing during general surgery residency: a worrisome trend for surgical trainees?

Kairys JC1, McGuire K, Crawford AG, Yeo CJ. J Am Coll Surg. 2008 May;206(5):804-11; discussion 811-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2007.12.055.

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The aim of this study was to quantify the changes over time in general surgical residents' operative experience as surgeon, first assistant, and teaching assistant. The introduction of work hour restrictions in July 2003 raised concern that residents' operative experience might decline. Early studies evaluating the mean number of operations performed as surgeon reported no major change. The experiences of residents as first assistant and teaching assistant have not been closely examined.

STUDY DESIGN:

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Resident Statistics Summary reports from academic year 1992 to 1993 through the present were reviewed. The mean number of cases reported as total surgeon, surgeon chief, and surgeon junior for academic year 2001 to 2002 through 2005 to 2006 were analyzed for total major operations. The median number of cases reported as total surgeon, first assistant, and teaching assistant for academic year 1992 to 1993 through 2005 to 2006 were analyzed for total major operations.

RESULTS:

Since the implementation of the 80-hour work duty restrictions, the number of total major operations reported by residents as surgeon decreased from 930 to 909 (2.3% decrease, p < 0.0001), surgeon chief operations decreased from 252 to 231 (8.3% decrease, p <0.0001), and surgeon junior operations remained essentially unchanged, from 677 to 678. From academic year 1992 to 1993 through 2005 to 2006, the median number of first assistant and teaching assistant cases declined from 231 to 49 (79% decrease) and from 67 to 23 (66% decrease), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

Since duty hour restrictions were introduced, there have been small but notable declines in the number of total surgeon and surgeon chief operative cases reported by graduating residents. Over a longer time period, operative cases reported by graduating residents in the roles of first assistant and teaching assistant declined dramatically. Although some of these declines were gradual, recent declines may have been accelerated by the 80-hour duty hour restrictions. These trends must be considered as we plan the education of present and future surgical residents.

PubMed 1847170118471701