Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
MD Program

Work Hours

Posted December 9, 2019
Updated August 8, 2022

Purpose: This policy defines work duties for medical studies. 

Background: Providing students with a sound academic and clinical education must be carefully planned and balanced with concerns for patient safety and student well-being. The benefits of participating in direct patient care activities must be balanced against the impact of fatigue on learning.


All pre-clerkship activities, clinical rotations (patient care), and elective rotations must adhere to the medical student work hours policy as defined below.

Core 1 Pre-Clerkship Curriculum

  • The pre-clerkship curriculum is organized with activities that include optional attendance (lectures) and mandatory attendance (labs, small groups, any activity that is identified as a clinical encounter). The estimated student workweek also includes team work and self-study outside of the scheduled curriculum. In the first 18 months, scheduled curricular elements, along with teamwork and self-study, totals no more than approximately 60 hours.

Core 2 Clerkship Curriculum, Core 3 Electives & Sub-Internship

  • Each student shall work no more than 80 hours of assigned clinical duties per week, including in-house and on-call activities, when averaged over the weekly length of any clinical rotation.
  • Clinical rotations that are scheduled as shift work should not exceed the hours allotted by resident work hours policies. Shifts should be separated by at least 10 hours between work periods. Students must have a minimum of 10 hours free of duty in between scheduled duty periods.
  • Students must be provided with at least one day in seven free from all required clinical and educational responsibilities when averaged over the length of the rotation. One day is equivalent to one continuous 24-hour period free from required educational or clinical activities.


This policy will be monitored for compliance by the clerkship directors, elective course directors, and the Deans. Any student who wishes to report non-compliance should first direct their concerns to their course directors and, if further issues persist, contact one of the Associate Deans for Curriculum or, if the student prefers, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Wellness. If confirmed that students have worked beyond the allowable time frame during the monitoring process as described above, the Deans will meet with the course director to ensure compliance with the policy, with ongoing close monitoring.