Impact of the recent reduction in working hours (the 80 hour work week) on surgical resident cancer education

John T. Vetto, Debra Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background. Resident work hours were recently reduced to 80 hours per week by a mandate from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and subsequent Federal law (HR 3236). This mandate became effective July 1st, 2003. We sought to determine any impact this change had on perceived and real resident cancer education and knowledge. Methods. Of the total 85 residents in our large, university-based surgical training program, we focused on the 40 who had been in the clinical program (rather than research) before and after the work hour reduction. Perceived impact on cancer education was determined by survey, and real impact by before (2002) and after (2004) scores on the overall and cancer-specific portion of the annual American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE). Results. All eligible residents responded to the survey. The majority (83% to 85%) indicated that exposure to cancer patients on wards and in clinics remained the same. Thirty percent felt that their exposure to cancer operations and tumor boards had decreased; 60% to 65% felt that exposure to these activities were unchanged. Approximately half of residents reported an increase in their cancer-related reading and Internet learning activities-the other half felt they had not changed. The majority (88%) reported no change in their participation in extraprogrammatic cancer-related continuing medical education activities. Of the survey responders, 23 had completed the ABSITE in both 2002 and 2004; their mean scores between the 2 time periods increased by 7% for the overall test and decreased by 3% for the cancer-specific portion. Conclusions. Overall, the recent reduction in work hours does not appear to have changed residents' experience with cancer patient care, although possible early reductions in attendance at cancer operations and tumor boards merits further study and possibly future schedule changes. The reported perceived increase in cancer-related reading and Internet learning has not yet translated into improved test scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-27
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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