COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Impact of duty hour restrictions on otolaryngology training: divergent resident and faculty perspectives

Joseph D Brunworth, Raj Sindwani
Laryngoscope 2006, 116 (7): 1127-30
16826046

OBJECTIVES: In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) passed a controversial mandate limiting resident work hours. We sought to examine the impact of these restrictions on otolaryngology programs and to explore faculty and resident perspectives.

METHODS: Faculty and residents of all 102 ACGME-accredited otolaryngology residency programs were invited to participate in an anonymous online survey.

RESULTS: The study population consisted of 460 respondents: 275 residents and 185 faculty (including 41 program directors) representing 57 otolaryngology programs. Sixty-five percent of programs implemented at least one change specifically to comply with duty-hour restrictions. Strategies included tracking work hours electronically (35.7%), utilization of "home call" (33.1%), and hiring additional healthcare professionals (23.1%). When asked if the restrictions have had a negative effect on patient care, 61% of respondents said no, but a surprising 33% said yes. Sixty-nine percent of faculty felt that the restrictions have actually had a negative effect on resident training compared with only 31% of residents (P<.001). Thirty-nine percent of participants felt resident workload was excessive before the restrictions. Opinions on whether duty-hour limits had fostered improvements in resident education, research, or examination scores varied, but most agreed that resident mental health had improved (67%).

CONCLUSIONS: Otolaryngology programs have successfully restricted resident duty hours through significant infrastructural changes. Of concern, the majority of residents surveyed appeared to be in favor of the ACGME restrictions, whereas most program directors and faculty were opposed. Further studies are needed to establish whether limited work hours will enhance or hinder the residency training experience.

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