Coalition Urges Shorter Shifts For Medical Residents

News outlets report on issues affecting medical school students and residents.

"Medical residents working long hours risk harm to both themselves and the patients they treat, a group of consumer and labor advocates charged Thursday," The Hill reports. The coalition is urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assume jurisdiction over the work hours of physician residents — and to put strict limits on what those hours can be. The groups — which include Public Citizen, SEIU and the American Medical Student Association — say the rules established by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which currently monitors the residents' work hours, don't go far enough ... Newly proposed ACGME standards, for instance, would still allow interns to work 20 consecutive 16-hour shifts, the critics argue" (Lillis, 9/2).

The New York Times, on a program at the New York University Medical School that allows students to interact with patients beginning on their first day, instead of wading through "two years of foundational science — gross anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, virology, pathology and the like" first. "But in the last few years, medical schools including those at N.Y.U. and Harvard University have been doing some soul-searching about whether this lock-step curriculum creates doctors who lack humanity, who see patients as diseases rather than as whole people and who have what the medical literature calls 'ethical erosion' — a loss of idealism, empathy, morality. The result has been an increasing focus on clinical studies and, in a curriculum introduced by N.Y.U. last week, on fostering from the beginning more personal relationships between medical students and patients" (Hartocollis, 9/2).

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