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The New Physician September 2012 Volume 61, Number 4

Scut work: Quality care or mundane tasks?

In a recent survey from TNP regarding the new ACGME [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education] Resident Duty Hours, I found a question regarding "scut work" to be quite amusing. The survey item asked how many hours per week I spend doing "scut work." Many medical students are familiar with this term, generally used to refer to busy work perceived to not have any educational or clinical value.

Now with nearly two years of residency complete, I have found that what I once considered to be "scut work" is actually the clinical activities that ensure the continued healing of my patients. Tasks like giving a Medicaid application to a 4-year-old asthmatic's mother so he has health insurance or photocopying a discharge summary so a 15-year-old at-risk teen can inform her pediatrician about her recent hospitalization are [critical] to providing high-quality care. In fact, these are the tasks that help to keep hospitals and clinics in operation!

In an ideal health care delivery AMSA members are well aware that we do not provide care in a perfect setting. As a former national leader in AMSA, I know that our committed physicians- in-training value advocacy through community service and public activism. I hope that we are not beginning to neglect what should be an equal dedication to serving our patients in the clinical setting.

Ryan Van Ramshorst, M.D.
PGY-3 resident in pediatrics San Antonio, Texas