Resident Duty Hours: A Survey of Internal Medicine Program Directors
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In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented new Common Program Requirements to regulate duty hours of resident physicians, with three goals: improved patient safety, quality of resident education and quality of life for trainees. We sought to assess Internal Medicine program director (IMPD) perceptions of the 2011 Common Program Requirements in July 2012, one year following implementation of the new standards.
A cross-sectional study of all IMPDs at ACGME-accredited programs in the United States (N = 381) was performed using a 32-question, self-administered survey. Contact information was identified for 323 IMPDs. Three individualized emails were sent to each director over a 6-week period, requesting participation in the survey. Outcomes measured included approval of duty hours regulations, as well as perceptions of changes in graduate medical education and patient care resulting from the revised ACGME standards.
A total of 237 surveys were returned (73 % response rate). More than half of the IMPDs (52 %) reported “overall” approval of the 2011 duty hour regulations, with greater than 70 % approval of all individual regulations except senior resident daily duty periods (49 % approval) and 16-hour intern shifts (17 % approval). Although a majority feel resident quality of life has improved (55 %), most IMPDs believe that resident education (60 %) is worse. A minority report that quality (8 %) or safety (11 %) of patient care has improved.
One year after implementation of new ACGME duty hour requirements, IMPDs report overall approval of the standards, but strong disapproval of 16-hour shift limits for interns. Few program directors perceive that the duty hour restrictions have resulted in better care for patients or education of residents. Although resident quality of life seems improved, most IMPDs report that their own workload has increased. Based on these results, the intended benefits of duty hour regulations may not yet have been realized.