Using optimization models to demonstrate the need for structural changes in training programs for surgical medical residents

Jonathan Turner*, Kibaek Kim, Sanjay Mehrotra, Debra A. DaRosa, Mark S. Daskin, Heron E. Rodriguez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The primary goal of a residency program is to prepare trainees for unsupervised care. Duty hour restrictions imposed throughout the prior decade require that residents work significantly fewer hours. Moreover, various stakeholders (e.g. the hospital, mentors, other residents, educators, and patients) require them to prioritize very different activities, often conflicting with their learning goals. Surgical residents' learning goals include providing continuity throughout a patient's pre-, peri-, and post-operative care as well as achieving sufficient surgical experience levels in various procedure types and participating in various formal educational activities, among other things. To complicate matters, senior residents often compete with other residents for surgical experience. This paper features experiments using an optimization model and a real dataset. The experiments test the viability of achieving the above goals at a major academic center using existing models of delivering medical education and training to surgical residents. It develops a detailed multi-objective, two-stage stochastic optimization model with anticipatory capabilities solved over a rolling time horizon. A novel feature of the models is the incorporation of learning curve theory in the objection function. Using a deterministic version of the model, we identify bounds on the achievement of learning goals under existing training paradigms. The computational results highlight the structural problems in the current surgical resident educational system. These results further corroborate earlier findings and suggest an educational system redesign is necessary for surgical medical residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Care Management Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Continuity of care
  • Handoffs
  • Medical education
  • Operations research
  • Residency
  • Resident case logs
  • Staffing and scheduling
  • Stochastic optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Health Professions
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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