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The 80 hour work week improves training of orthopaedic residents

The 80 hour work week improves the training of orthopaedic residents

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The 80 hour work week harms the training of orthopaedic residents

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Christian Veillette
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  1. Jun 21, 2009

    Let's start with the obvious: the human body needs sleep. Hence some limitation on work hours is needed. So to paraphrase GB Shaw, we are not discussing whether there should be limits but only their parameters. To me, 80 hours sound like a lot!

    Yet we must attend to the following:

    • Sign-out must be perfected. If the reduction in hours leads to more hand-offs, we must get very good at making these passes. Probably an electronic medical record will help here
    • Avoidance of the shift-worked mentality should be a paramount educational goal. The ethic of being responsible for the patient withers, perhaps, if one eye is on the clock.
    • A policy on moonlighting should be developed. Liberating residents from their main job just so they can work on the side for cash is not progress.

    PS if any of the younger generation is so privileged to hear their elders waxed nostalgic about the Days of the Giants, when "the only thing wrong with call every other night is missing half the cases", point them to this Monty Python skit :The Four Yorkshireman , (each vying for the crown "most difficult childhood"). An excerpt is pasted below:

    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN: You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t' mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi' his belt.
    SECOND YORKSHIREMAN: Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of 'ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!
    THIRD YORKSHIREMAN: Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to 'ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o'clock at night and lick road clean wit' tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit' bread knife.
    FOURTH YORKSHIREMAN: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.
    FIRST YORKSHIREMAN:
    And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.