Smartphone use in the clinical environment is ubiquitous among residents.

Staff members are usually in their twenties and thirties and are part of the first generation that grew up with the Internet.

However, there are questions of professionalism that arise from smartphone use on rounds and in other formal clinical settings.

In February of 2012, Albert Einstein College of Medicine instituted a smartphone policy to minimize distraction during attending rounds.

The policy states that all team members must silence or turn off their phones during attending rounds. The policy did indicate that smartphones could be used for matters that related directly to patient care. Given the importance of technology to Generation Y,  a study was done to assess resident attitude to the new smartphone policy.


  • To evaluate resident attitudes to the smartphone policy implemented at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Study Conclusion:

  • The majority of residents had an acceptance of the clear guidelines regarding smartphone use during inpatient rounds (despite concerns that guidelines and restrictions could foster resentment among residents).

Commentary and Implications:

  • The generation of physicians in residency who grew up on the Internet have the highest utilization of technology. Smartphones have the potential to be great tools on rounds and in the clinical setting, but there is concern that their use in certain clinical situations can convey a lack of professionalism or even apathy. Briefly, the policy at Albert Einstein stated that the smartphone code of conduct policy was instituted to minimize distraction during attending rounds.
  • The policy applies to all team members, including faculty and essentially states that at the beginning of rounds, all phones must be silenced or turned off. These devices are to be used only for patient care or for urgent personal/family concerns. Any use of smartphones must be made explicit to the person leading rounds.
  • Attending rounds are an especially important time to give patients undivided attention. Families are often anxiously awaiting the team’s arrival to hear about the day’s plan and get reassurance. Hospitalized patients are vulnerable and families are often sensitive and on-edge. Although there was some apprehension to how the house staff would receive this policy when it was implemented, the survey results indicate that residents and faculty appreciate a formal code of conduct to be put in place to minimize distractions and support professionalism. Because of the success of the new policy at this medical center, it would be a good idea to implement similar policies for attending rounds at other institutions.


  • An anonymous survey was administered via Survey-Monkey and sent by email to all house staff in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Jacobi Medical Center. The survey provided a summary of the policy.


  • The overall survey response rate was 65%.
  • 82% of residents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, It is a good idea to have clear guidelines and expectations about how team members should use smartphones during attending rounds.
  • (60% of residents agreed with the stipulations of the current policy, while eighteen percent felt that the current guidelines should be modified)

Article Name: Resident’s Attitudes Toward a Smartphone Policy for Inpatient Attending Rounds
Authors: Rachel Katz-Sidlow M.D., Yocheved Lindenbaum M.D., Robert Sidlow, M.D., M.BA.
Journal Published:  Journal of Hospital Medicine
Date Published: September 2013