Are Canadian general surgery residents ready for the 80-hour work week? A nationwide survey


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Abstract

BackgroundThe purpose of this study was to describe Canadian general surgery residents’ perceptions regarding potential implementation of work-hour restrictions.MethodsAn ethics review board–approved, Web-based survey was submitted to all Canadian general surgery residency programs between April and July 2009. Questions evaluated the perceived effects of an 80-hour work week on length of training, operative exposure, learning and lifestyle. We used the Fisher exact test to compare senior and junior residents’ responses.ResultsOf 360 residents, 158 responded (70 seniors and 88 juniors). Among them, 79% reported working 75–100 hours per week. About 74% of seniors believed that limiting their work hours would decrease their operative exposure; 43% of juniors agreed (p < 0.001). Both seniors and juniors thought limiting their work hours would improve their lifestyle (86% v. 96%, p = 0.12). Overall, 60% of residents did not believe limiting work hours would extend the length of their training. Regarding 24-hour call, 60% of juniors thought it was hazardous to their health; 30% of seniors agreed (p = 0.001). Both senior and junior residents thought abolishing 24-hour call would decrease their operative exposure (84% v. 70%, p = 0.21). Overall, 31% of residents supported abolishing 24-hour call. About 47% of residents (41% seniors, 51% juniors, p = 0.26) agreed with the adoption of the 80-hour work week.ConclusionThere is a training-level based dichotomy of opinion among general surgery residents in Canada regarding the perceived effects of work hour restrictions. Both groups have voted against abolishing 24-hour call, and neither group strongly supports the implementation of the 80-hour work week.

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