Check this out. What you will see is an interesting spin on an old debate. Should there be a limit (say 16 hours) on the length of a Resident’s shift, or should it be “flexible” (i.e., as many hours as the hospital needs the Resident to work. The interesting spin is the questioning of whether endurance should be part of the training process, since practicing physicians sometimes have to work extremely long hours too.
Ponder that question for a moment. Is not a trainee working long hours under more stress than an accomplished physician working for the same time period? I am going with yes on that one. I am also mulling over this piece’s report that there are no differences in physician and patient outcomes if a residency program is more “real world,” i.e., requiring the Resident to handle everything that is thrown at her regardless of hours already logged. Really?
Bottom Line. I believe that regardless of your interpretation of the issues outlined above, the writer of this article (herself a Chief Resident) comes to the right conclusion. That is, training for the real world should mean that both physicians in training and practicing physicians should have reasonable schedules, and civilized escape hatches like the ability to call in “exhausted.”
I think that’s right!