New Sleep Rules for New Doctors

The sleep schedule of first year medical residents has historically been nearly nonexistent, as they work long and odd hours.  That’s all about to change, however, as the Council for Graduate Medical Education announced new rules for shift length.

Maximum work shifts for first-year residents only are being cut from 24 hours to 16 hours. The 80-hour-weekly limit remains, but strategic napping is strongly recommended.

The rules impact the sleep schedules of more than 110,000 new doctors who are being trained at U.S. hospitals.  They take effect next July.

While this is a start, in our view these rules don’t go nearly far enough.  While a 16 hour shift allows for eight hours off, that eight hours is cut due to the time spent getting to and from work, as well as eating meals.  In truth, most of these young doctors are probably getting six hours of sleep or less.  Naps are helpful, but most of these rookie doctors are likely clinically sleep deprived.

Source: Associated Press