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Resident Patients Per Hour – What’s Normal?

June 13, 2019

Written by Clay Smith

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Want to see how many patients per hour you should be seeing, according to resident data from this single center? Plug in your number of months as a resident. Patients/hour = (0.018 × month of training) + 1.113.

Why does this matter?
What should educators expect from an EM intern (PGY1), second year (PGY2), or third year (PGY3)? What should residents expect of themselves? What’s a “normal” number of patients they should see on shift?

As a PGY20, I should be up to 5.45 patients/hr…
This was a single level 1 trauma center with 14 residents per year, 120,000 patients per year, a 3-year program, and counted only new patients (not sign outs). They retrospectively analyzed 51 months of resident data from 110 residents and found there was a year-on-year increase in patients per hour on average: PGY1, 1.2; PGY2, 1.5; PGY3, 1.7. Using linear regression, they found this line equation (y = mx+b) predicted patients per hour based on month of training: patients per hour = (0.018 × month of training) + 1.113 [R-squared = 0.437, which means the outcomes based on this equation are moderately well predicted]. Since I started 240 months ago, I am below the expected 5.45 patients per hour expected of a PGY20. Of course, this is tongue in cheek; the equation is meant for first through third year residents, not those in practice. Plug in your number of months as a resident and see how you’re doing. While this is kind of fun, there is variability program to program. Also, when you get out, the benchmark is 2.48 patients per hour. So, it’s best to push yourself and try to surpass these norms.

Monthly Progression of Emergency Medicine Resident Efficiency: What Can We Expect of Our Residents Throughout Training? J Emerg Med. 2019 May 8. pii: S0736-4679(19)30244-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2019.03.037. [Epub ahead of print]

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Reviewed by Thomas Davis