AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. January 2000, Volume 2, Number 1.

Did You Know?

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It's about Time

Little-known medical trivia.

  • Horologists refer to the Henry Graves Supercomplication as the "Mona Lisa" of timepieces. Made by Patek Philippe in 1933, this handcrafted pocketwatch features 24 complications, including a perpetual calendar, moon phases, and sidereal time. Sotheby's recently auctioned off the Gates timepiece for a record $11 million.
  • Medical students in only 52 US schools spend time in separate, formal ethics courses during their educational career.
  • Residents in pathology worked on average of 48 hours per week, while those in general surgery worked on average of 81 hours per week.
  • According to ACGME work-hour guidelines, it is desirable for general surgery residents to have 1 day off a week and be on call no more than every third night.
  • General practitioners in Great Britain spend between 5 and 8 minutes in an average office visit, while US physicians spend between 10 to 20 minutes or more [1].
  • Technically, the third millennium starts on January 1, 2001. Check your clock against the official US atomic clock and learn the importance of having time accuracy to 1 second in 6 million years.


  1. Dugdale DC, Epstein R, Pantilat SZ. Time and the patient-physician relationship. J Gen Intern Med. 1999;14(suppl 1):S34-S40. Abstract available at: PubMed. Accessed December 29, 1999.

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