Department of medicine

Duty Hours

MUSC Internal Medicine  

Medical Student Duty Hours Guidelines

The ACGME has established limits on the work hours of interns and residents to help prevent stress, burnout, injury or even medical errors.  This medical student policy was developed in accordance with and modeled after the new 2011 ACGME standards for resident duty hours.  Medical students need to learn healthy and appropriate strategies for managing potentially long duty hours even at this stage of training.  Patient safety, student wellness, and learning lifelong practice habits are an important focus of our medical training at MUSC.     

The following guidelines on duty hours, drafted by the MUSC Clinical Sciences Subcommittee, considered the issue of student duty hours and, and at the May 2011 meeting, adopted the following guidelines. Duty hours are defined as “patient care or educational events, such as seminars, lectures, and rounds.  The guidelines were then approved by the College of Medicine Curriculum Committee. The guidelines used the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as a guide, modified to apply to our students encouraging wellness without comprising the educational activities at hand. 

Policy for Student Duty Hours

  • The maximum number of hours that a student may be on duty in one week is 80 hours, averaged over 4 weeks.
  • The maximum shift length is 26 hours to allow safe handoffs of patients.  Rotations must encourage the use of alertness management strategies in the context of patient care responsibilities. Call rooms will be provided.
  •  Students, on their own initiative may remain beyond their scheduled period of duty to continue to provide care to a single patient (e.g. required continuity, academic importance, or humanistic needs of a patient or family).
  • The maximum frequency of in-hospital call is every third night.
  • The minimum time off between scheduled shifts is 8 hours.
  • The maximum frequency of in-hospital night shifts is 6 night shifts sequentially.
  • As a minimum, a student must have the following time off duty: 1 day (24 hours) per week averaged over 4 weeks.


In the case of clerkships, where hospital team members create the violation of the Student Duty Hours guidelines, students may make a direct report to the clerkship director. Students may also make a direct report to an Associate Dean of Students or designee.  Each clerkship director will be responsible for collecting data on the frequency and nature of duty hour violations. 

If a student reports the violation directly to the course or clerkship director, the course or clerkship director is required to investigate the situation and attempt to remedy it. If the situation is not remedied, the student must report the situation to an Associate Dean of Students or designee.


© Medical University of South Carolina | 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425