The financial impact of teaching surgical residents in the operating room

Am J Surg. 1999 Jan;177(1):28-32. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(98)00289-x.


Background: There have been no published data regarding the cost of training surgical residents in the operating room.

Methods: At the University of Tennessee Medical Center-Knoxville, in addition to resident-performed teaching cases, some cases are performed without the assistance of residents by the same faculty.

Results: Sixty-two case categories involving 14,452 cases were compared for operative times alone. In 46 case categories (10,787 procedures), resident operative times were longer than faculty alone. In 16 case categories, resident operating times were shorter than faculty times. The net incremental operative time cost was 2,050 hours between July 1993 and March 1997. Assuming 4 years of operative training for 11 graduating chief residents, the cost per graduating resident was $47,970.

Conclusion: Extrapolated to a national annual cost for the 1,014 general surgery residents who completed training in the 1997 academic year, the annual cost of training residents in the operating room is $53 million. This high monetary cost suggests the need for digital skills, selection criteria, the development of training curriculum and resource facilities, the pre-operating room need for suturing and stapling techniques, and perhaps the acquisition of virtual surgery training modules.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • General Surgery / economics
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Hospitals, University / economics
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / economics*
  • Operating Rooms / economics*
  • Tennessee
  • Time and Motion Studies