Duty Hours on Surgery Clerkship: From Compliance Nightmare to Leadership and Professional Development Opportunity.

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To evaluate the impact of an innovative leadership development initiative in the core surgery clerkship that addressed duty hours compliance and time-off requests.


A combination of deductive and inductive analysis of medical student reflections written after rotating on Acute Care Surgery over 2 academic years (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) was performed. Reflections were part of criteria to receive honors and a prompt was given to discuss their experience in creating their own call schedules. We utilized a combined deductive and inductive process to identify predominant themes within the reflections. Once established, we quantitatively identified frequency and density of themes cited, along with qualitative analysis to determine barriers and lessons learned.


Dell Seton Medical Center, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, a tertiary academic facility.


There were 96 students who rotated on Acute Care Surgery during the study period, 64 (66.7%) of whom completed the reflection piece.


We identified 10 predominant themes through the combined deductive and inductive processes. Barriers were cited by most students (n = 58, 91%), with communication being the most commonly discussed theme when cited with a mean 1.96 references per student. Learned leadership skills included: communication, independence, teamwork, negotiating skills, reflection of best practices by residents, and realizing the importance of duty hours.


Transferring duty hour scheduling responsibilities to medical students resulted in multiple professional development opportunities while decreasing administrative burden and improving adherence to duty hour requirements. This approach requires further validation, but may be considered at other institutions seeking to improve the leadership and communication skills of its students, while improving adherence to duty hour restrictions.





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Publication Info

Mikulski, Matthew F, Madison Terzo, Zachary Jacquez, Ziv Beckerman and Kimberly M Brown (2023). Duty Hours on Surgery Clerkship: From Compliance Nightmare to Leadership and Professional Development Opportunity. Journal of surgical education, 80(6). pp. 797–805. 10.1016/j.jsurg.2023.03.005 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27470.

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