More than a third of surgical residents think that regulations designed to limit their work schedules to a maximum of 80 hours per week represent a “significant barrier” to their training. And 43% of them want to work more hours than the regulations permit.
To reach these conclusions, Jacob Moalem and colleagues at the University of Rochester distributed a Web-based survey to all surgical residents and associate members of the American College of Surgeons.
Of the nearly 600 respondents, 41% said the rules were a “considerable or moderate barrier” to their training. Less than a third said the rules did not hinder their training. An additional 27% said the rules were a minimal barrier.
Senior residents were more likely to view work time restrictions as a barrier to their training, regardless of whether they trained at small, medium, or large programs.
The write-up appears in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
“Surgeons are expressing a desire and a need to learn more in a compact time frame,” Moalem told BurrillReport. “Senior surgery residents should be given the chance to control their own schedules as they continue to refine their technical skills and transition into independent practice.”
The regulations had been implemented to address resident burn-out and improve patient safety. It had been the norm for surgical residents to log 100+ hours per week before the change.
The regulations have been shown to increase the number of hours residents sleep each week, and there have been anecdotal reports that their personal lives have improved, but their effect on caseload, academic performance, and board scores is not well understood.
Beyond this, some studies have suggested that the shorter work-weeks have led to more communication errors caused by more frequent patient handoffs, according to the scientists.