Original Article

Survey of Internal Medicine Physicians Trained in Three Different Eras: Reflections on Duty-Hour Reform

Authors: Carolyn M. Larsen, MD, Meltiady Issa, MD, Ivana T. Croghan, PhD, Tamara E. Buechler, MD, M. Caroline Burton, MD


Objectives: To survey internal medicine physicians and residents who have completed residency in three different eras of medical training regarding their experiences during their intern year and their perceptions of duty-hour reform.

Methods: An online survey was administered to 268 residents, fellows, and staff physicians who had completed or were completing residency during one of three eras of training: before the 80-hour work week, after the 80-hour work week (instituted in 2003), and after the 16-hour limit on continuous shifts for interns (instituted in 2011). The survey assessed experiences during their intern year of residency and perceptions regarding resident duty-hour reform.

Results: The majority of respondents (n = 32; 54%) indicated that duty-hour restrictions would result in residents being less prepared for their future careers. In addition, 36% (n = 21) of respondents anticipated a decrease in the quality of patient care under the restricted duty hours. A total of 41% (n = 24) were undecided regarding the impact of duty-hour reform on patient care. Respondents reported time spent on independent study, research, and conference attendance did not increase following the institution of duty-hour restrictions.

Conclusions: Survey responses indicated that after 18 months of experience with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education duty-hour restrictions, physician opinions were mixed and a substantial number remain undecided regarding the impact of duty-hour restrictions on resident career preparedness and the quality of patient care.

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