Association for Academic Surgery| Volume 171, ISSUE 2, P422-426, December 2011

The Impact of the 80-Hour Work Week on Student Interest in a Surgical Career1

Published:September 03, 2010DOI:


      In July 2003, an 80-h work wk was initiated for residents across the United States, with the potential benefit of improving resident quality of life. Using a survey of medical students, we evaluated whether this change increased medical students’ interest in pursuing a career in surgery.


      Surveys were administered to 505 medical students prior to and after completing their surgical clerkship at a university-based medical school. Results were then analyzed with significance determined as a P ≤ 0.05.


      Overall, 55 (10.9%) medical students stated they anticipated pursuing a surgical career prior to starting their clerkship. There was no difference in the pre-rotation interest in a surgical career from before to after introduction of the 80-h work wk (8.3% versus 12.6%, P = 0.14). Men were also more likely than women to report a pre-rotation interest in surgery (16.9% versus 6.1%, P < 0.001). The most important factor influencing a student’s post-clerkship interest in pursuing a career in surgery was a pre-rotation interest.


      These data indicate that the 80-h work wk has not improved medical students’ or females’ interests in surgery. Since the strongest predictor of pursuing a career in surgery is a pre-rotation interest, we need to continue efforts to appeal to medical students earlier in their education and improve upon their perceptions of surgery.

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