Changes in Shift Work Policy: From Residency to Practice

By January 4, 2019Uncategorized

Residency is a critical step in one’s medical education journey. After attending medical school, participating in required clerkships and sub-clerkships, and completing an internship year, recent medical school graduates go on to become junior residents. The residency experience is one part clinical education, one part job experience. Residency is designed to not only prepare residents for their eventual specialty, but also to expose them to the rigors of the profession. All anesthesiologists must attend a three-year residency program, which includes clinical experience as a trainee, as well as educational programming such as grand rounds and clinical conferences.[1] After successfully completing their residency programs and obtaining the proper certifications and state-specific licenses, many aspiring anesthesiologists will complete a sub-specialty fellowship. Sub-specialty fellowships allow residents to become experts in a certain sub-field within anesthesiology, such as critical care medicine or pediatric anesthesia. Each stage of residency training serves as a kind of trial period for the lifestyle of an anesthesiologist, which often requires long shifts, overnight and weekend calls, unpredictable hours, and any additional stressors associated with the surgical profession. In recent years, shift work policies have emerged as a topic of discussion in anesthesiology, as well as in the broader conversation in research. From residency to practice, shift work is now being closely examined as a necessary area for reform.

Historically, physician educators in anesthesiology, as well as many other disciplines, have insisted that residents work long hours to adequately prepare themselves for the life of a practicing physician. On average, the length of residency