The Effect of Work Hour Restrictions on the Education of Orthopaedic Surgery Residents

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Abstract

In 2005 the Academic Leadership Group of the American Orthopaedic Association surveyed orthopaedic program directors, chairs, and members of the Resident Leadership Forum to gather information about the effect of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education work-hour restrictions on resident education. We compared these results with a similar survey performed 2 years ago. Ninety-four program directors and chairs and 59 senior residents responded to this survey. Overall, the respondents thought the duty hour restrictions had a negative impact on orthopaedic residency education but less so than in the previous survey. This conclusion was based on perceived negative effects on professionalism, resident operative experience, continuity of care, and increased workload for the faculty. Senior residents who worked before and after the work-hour limitations were instituted were more concerned about the negative effects than junior residents. Residents did seem more rested and content but not better prepared or necessarily more attentive. Respondents were not of the opinion resident performance had improved as measured by perceptions of performance on standardized tests. Orthopaedic departments had adapted to the work-hour limitations by scheduling night float rotations, converting in-house call to home call, and by hiring additional personnel in the form of physician extenders.

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