First-postgraduate-year resident clinical time use on three specialty rotations

A. Roy Magnusson, Jerris R. Hedges, Richard J. Harper, Paul Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare in-hospital time uses by first-postgraduate-year (PGY1) residents during rotations in emergency medicine (EM), internal medicine (IM), and surgery (S). This article reports the clinical components of residency time use. Methods: A cross-sectional, observational study of the clinical activities of EM PGY1 residents was performed while the residents were on duty during the three specialty rotations. The activities were recorded by an observer using a log with predetermined categories for clinical activities. A time-blocked, convenience sample of resident shifts was observed for each service rotation. The sample was proportional to the total number of hours for which a PGY1 resident was expected to be in the hospital during a rotation on that service. No attempt was made to sample the same resident at all time periods or on all rotations. Proportions were compared by X2; α = 0.0001. Results: Twelve PGY1 residents were observed for a total of 166 hours on S, 156 hours on IM, and 120 hours on EM. These hourly amounts were representative of a typical two-week span of service on each rotation for the residents. On average, the residents spent 57% of their time on clinical or service-oriented activities. During EM and IM rotations, the residents spent most of their time performing clinical information gathering and engaging in case management and data synthesis (52% of total clinical effort). Within this category, residents on EM were more involved with case discussion and review of ancillarY test results than on IM (34% vs 20% of time in this categorY). Conversely, proportionately less time in this categorY was devoted to documentation on the EM vs IM rotation (56% vs 80%; p < 0.0001). The greatest opportunity to perform procedures was on the S rotation (31% of total clinical time vs 6% for other specialties; p < 0.0001). Conclusion: Awareness of the clinical activities performed on PGY1 rotations can help residency directors anticipate educational needs to balance their residents' experience. Since 29% and 42% of total clinical time on PGY1 EM and IM rotations, respectively, is focused on documentation, efforts to enhance charting skills and efficiency are warranted. Also, efforts to enhance PGY1 procedural experience outside of the S rotation appear warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-946
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Clinical practice
  • Emergency medicine
  • Graduate medical education
  • Internal medicine
  • Resident
  • Surgery
  • Time study
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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