Content of an Educational Handover Letter From Medical Schools to Surgery Residencies: A Mixed Method Analysis

Acad Med. 2021 Nov 1;96(11S):S136-S143. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004325.


Purpose: To identify the content of an educational handover letter from undergraduate to graduate education in General Surgery.

Method: Expert consensus was attained on the content of an educational handover letter. A 3-stage Delphi technique was employed with 8 experts in each of 4 stakeholder groups: program directors in general surgery, medical student surgical acting internship or prep course directors, authors of medical student performance evaluations, and current categorical General Surgery residents. Data were collected from April through July 2019. A mixed method analysis was performed to quantitatively assess items selected for inclusion and qualitatively provide guidance for the implantation of such a letter.

Results: All 32 experts participated in at least one round. Of the 285 initially identified individual items, 22 were ultimately selected for inclusion in the letter. All but one expert agreed that the list represents what the content of an educational handover letter in General Surgery should be. Qualitative analysis was performed on 395 comments and identified 4 themes to guide the implementation of the letter: "minimize redundancy, optimize impact, use appropriate assessments, and mitigate risk."

Conclusions: A framework and proposed template are provided for an educational handover letter from undergraduate to graduate medical education in General Surgery based on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of expert consensus of major stakeholders. This letter holds promise to enhance the transition from undergraduate to graduate medical education by allowing programs to capitalize on strengths and efficiently address knowledge gaps in new trainees.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Correspondence as Topic*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Educational Measurement / standards*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • United States