Implications of current resident work-hour guidelines on the future practice of surgery in Canada

Adam A Maruscak, Laura VanderBeek, Michael C Ott, Stephen Kelly, Thomas L Forbes
Journal of Surgical Education 2012, 69 (4): 487-92

OBJECTIVE: Work-hour restrictions have had a profound impact on surgical training. However, little is known of how work-hour restrictions may affect the future practice patterns of current surgical residents. The purpose of this study is to compare the anticipated career practice patterns of surgical residents who are training within an environment of work-hour restrictions with the current practice of faculty surgeons.

DESIGN: An electronic survey was sent to all surgery residents and faculty at 2 Canadian university-affiliated medical centers. The survey consisted of questions regarding expected (residents) or current (faculty) practice patterns.

RESULTS: A total of 149 residents and 125 faculty members completed the survey (50.3% and 52.3% response rates, respectively). A greater proportion of males were in the faculty cohort than in the resident group (77.6% vs 62.4%, p = 0.0003). More faculty than residents believed that work-hour restrictions have a negative impact on both residency education (40.8% vs 20.8%, p = 0.008) and preparation for a surgical career (56.8% vs 19.5%, p < 0.0001). Compared with current faculty, residents plan to take less call (p < 0.0003), work fewer days of the week (p < 0.0001), are more likely to limit their duty hours on postcall days (p = 0.009), and take parental leave (p = 0.02) once in practice. Male and female residents differed somewhat in their responses in that more female residents plan to limit their postcall duty hours (55.4% vs 36.5%, p = 0.009) and to take a parental leave (51.8% vs 16.1%, p < 0.0001) compared with their male resident colleagues.

CONCLUSIONS: Current surgical residents expect to adopt components of resident work-hour guidelines into their surgical practices after completing their residency. These practice patterns will have surgical workforce implications and might require larger surgical groups and reconsideration of resource allocation.

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