The July Effect in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency

J Foot Ankle Surg. 2021 May 1;S1067-2516(21)00161-7. doi: 10.1053/j.jfas.2021.04.020. Online ahead of print.


The period when medical students begin residency in teaching hospitals throughout the United States heralds a period known in the medical community as the "July Effect." Though several sentinel studies associated this timeframe with an increase in medical errors, residencies since demystified this phenomenon within their respective specialty. This study aims to evaluate the presence of the July Effect in a podiatric medicine and surgery residency program. A retrospective chart review was conducted, comparing patient demographics and surgical outcomes including length of stay, operative time and readmission rate between the first (July, August, September) and fourth (April, May June) quarters of the academic year from 2014-2019. A total of 206 patients met the inclusion criteria, where 99 received care in the first, resident-naïve, quarter and 107 received care in the fourth, resident-experienced, quarter. No difference in patient demographics including sex, body mass index, or comorbidity index was appreciated between both quarters (p<0.05). Those patients who underwent soft tissue and bone debridements, digital, forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot amputations experienced no statistically significant difference in length of stay, operative time, or readmission rate between both quarters (p<0.05). The results of this study did not support the presence of the July Effect in our foot and ankle surgery residency. Future studies can further explore this phenomenon by examining patients admitted following traumatic injury or elective procedures. Moreover, this study shows the curriculum employed at our program provides sufficient support, guidance, and resources to limit errors attributed to the July Effect.

Keywords: academic medicine; medical education; post-graduate training; surgical instruction; teaching.