Our objective was to assess the effect of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) on surgical resident work flow, duty hours, and operative experience at a large teaching hospital. In May 2012, an EHR was put into effect at our institution replacing paper documentation and orders. Resident time to complete patient documentation, average duty hours, and operative experience before EHR and afterward (at 1, 4, 6, 8, and 24 weeks) were surveyed. We obtained 100 per cent response rate from 15 surgical residents at all time intervals. The average time spent documenting before EHR was 9 ± 2 minutes per patient document and at Weeks 1, 4, 6, 8, and 24 after EHR implementation was 22 ± 10, 15 ± 7, 15 ± 7, 14 ± 8, and 12 ± 4 minutes, respectively. Repeated measures analysis of variance demonstrated a difference among the means (P < 0.0001). Discharge summary and operative note remained significantly longer to complete at Week 24 compared with paper documentation (P < 0.05). Average resident work hours and operative cases per week before EHR were 77 ± 5 hours and 12 ± 5 cases, respectively, which were similar at all time points after EHR implementation (P > 0.05). At 24 weeks after EHR, 74 per cent of residents felt their risk of performing a medical error using electronic documentation and order entry was higher compared with paper charting and orders. Transition to EHR led to a significant doubling in resident time spent performing documentation for each patient. It improved over 6 months after implementation but never reached the pre-EHR baseline for operative notes and discharge summaries. Average resident work hours and case logs remained similar during this transition.