Resident education in 2011: Three key challenges on the road ahead

Erik G. Van Eaton, John L. Tarpley, Carmen C. Solorzano, Clifford S. Cho, Sharon M. Weber, Paula M. Termuhlen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Two important changes in the past decade have altered the landscape of graduate medical education (GME) in the U.S. The national restrictions on trainee duty hours mandated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) were the most visible and generated much controversy. Equally important is the ACGME Outcome Project, which mandates competency-based training. Both of these changes have unique implications for surgery trainees, who traditionally spent long hours caring for patients in the hospital, and who must be assessed in 2 broad domains: their medical care of pre- and postoperative patients, and their technical skill with procedures in and out of the operating room. This article summarizes 3 key challenges that lie ahead for surgical educators. First, the changes in duty hours in the past 7 years are summarized, and the conversation about added restrictions planned for July 2011 is reviewed. Next, the current state of the assessment of competency among surgical trainees is reviewed, with an outline of the challenges that need to be overcome to achieve widespread, competency-based training in surgery. Finally, the article summarizes the problems caused by increased reliance on handoffs among trainees as they compensate for decreased time in the hospital, and suggests changes that need to be made to improve safety and efficiency, including how to use handoffs as part of our educational evaluation of residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-473
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


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