That’s the title of a very interesting article in the New York Times’ Well blog. Here’s a brief excerpt.
For the past decade, in response to increasing pressure from politicians, unions and sleep experts, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the organization responsible for accrediting American medical and surgical training programs, has been working to cap the hours that residents work.
. . .
For nearly a century, surgical residency had been a period of both intensive experience and increasing responsibility under the guidance of more experienced surgeons. More recent research has affirmed that approach, demonstrating the strong link between a surgeon’s operative skill, the number of operations performed and patient outcomes. With limits set on their time at the hospital, young surgeons-in-training had fewer opportunities to care for patients or scrub in on operations. While previous generations of trainees had the luxury of participating in at least one operation a day, new trainees had only enough time to be involved in two or maybe three operations each week.
Calculating the number of hours “lost” by cutting back on in-hospital time, surgical leaders estimated that young surgeons-to-be were now missing out on as much as a year’s worth of experience.
. . .
Surgical training programs scrambled to make up for less time and cover the ever-expanding body of knowledge by creating online educational tools and offering trainees experiences in simulated operating rooms and trauma resuscitations using electronic mannequins and foam rubber models.
But as The Annals of Surgery study reveals, even the best-equipped simulation labs cannot replace a year’s worth of lost experience.
There’s more at the link. Very worthwhile reading, particularly in these days of disruptions to medical insurance and uncertainty about the future of health care. It’s not very comforting to people like me, who are growing older, have had multiple surgeries in the past, and know we’re likely to need repeat surgeries in the not too distant future.