• By Dennis Douda

Debunking "July Effect": Quality Doesn’t Falter When Residents Start Training

July 15, 2013



The “July Effect” — the notion that the influx of new residents and fellows at teaching hospitals each July makes it the worst time of year to be a patient — is a myth, according to Mayo Clinic research.  In late June and early July, 402 new residents and fellows started their training programs at Mayo. Members of this first year class come from 106 U.S. medical, dental or graduate schools in 41 states, as well as 109 international medical schools in 36 countries. Across Mayo Clinic, there are about 1,500 trainees in various stages of training in 271 programs.

Ken Kurth, administrator for Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education (MSGME) explains that new residents and fellows at Mayo Clinic are never on their own early in their training and notes that the transition to patient care responsibilities is gradual and carefully supervised. Faculty members participate in workshops and share best practices on ways to support trainees and spot and address fatigue, or other concerns. Kurth says the faculty’s goal is that each resident and fellow “is successful from day one."

Mayo Clinic research indicates that Mayo Clinic isn’t the only academic medical center that’s avoiding the “July effect” and it supports the fact that quality doesn’t falter when new residents and fellows start training.

The research, published last year in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, examined nearly 1 million hospitalizations for patients undergoing spine surgery from 2001 to 2008. In addition, no substantial "July Effect" was observed in higher-risk patients, those admitted for elective surgery, or patients undergoing simple or complex spinal procedures. Patient records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a large public database of information on hospitalized U.S. patients, were the basis for the study. “We hope that our findings will reassure patients that they are not at higher risk of medical complications if they undergo spinal surgery during July as compared to other times of the year," says study co-author Jennifer McDonald, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist.

Journalists: Sound bites with administrator Ken Kurth and Dr. Jennifer McDonald are available in the downloads


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