* * Anonymous Doc

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Someone sent me a Bloomberg article about a proposal to trim the length of intern call times from a maximum of 30 hours to a maximum of 16.

First reaction: Why couldn't this have happened a year ago?

Second reaction: Why only interns and not residents?

Third reaction: Now I know how the attendings feel when they tell us we have it easy, they used to be on call for 60 hours in a row, or do eight straight overnights, or not sleep for a month, or whatever crazy stories they tell us.

Yes, we have it easier than interns used to. We're "limited" to 80 hours a week, and most of the time we do in fact work less than 80 hours a week. We're "limited" to being on for 30 hours in a row, and never have two consecutive overnights (except when we're working only nights, and then we're off during the day). We have at least eight hours off between shifts. It could be worse, and used to be worse.

That doesn't mean it's great, or that it couldn't be better.

I can't decide whether 16 hours is a little bit excessive as far as the limit, or whether the system has simply made me accept that long days are a part of the job. Because 16 hours is a lot, and I shouldn't forget that just because I've been forced to do 27 hours in a row for, I don't know, 30 or 35 days over the course of this past year. I don't want to be someone's patient when they're in hour 27, and I'm not sure I really want to be someone's patient in hour 16 either.

So I applaud the new rules, even though, sadly, I won't benefit from them-- unless I'm ever a patient.

On Thursday, July 1, I become a second-year. Mere days until I'm the one in charge (to some extent), I'm the one telling the interns what to do, I'm the one making decisions. Yikes.


  1. I wanted to leave a real comment, but there's just this overwhelming sense of FUCK YEAH, we're second years!!!!

    i think congratulations are in order. here's to anonymous blogging residents on the internets!!

    so instead of writing something in agreement with your post about the complacency of old age, and the private attendings at my hospital who seem stuck in their bullshit old ways, let's celebrate. i'd buy you a drink, but hey, i don't even know who you are. hooray!!

  2. Congrats (a few days early) on making it through the year.

    Frankly, medicine is the one profession where I think crazy training hours have merit. You want the people who can't hack the pressure to be weeded out. You want people who can make important decisions when they're not feeling 100%.

    There are plenty of scientific fields to enter if you don't want the responsibility of treating patients. But it seems to me that if you're going to treat patients, part of the training has to be treating patients when *you* are in a suboptimal state.

    At least, this is my take on it. I guess it feels like hazing when you're going through it though.