Professional vs. personal needs : the effects of work hour reduction on the lives of surgery residents
Camua, Thelma DeLeon.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. While nobly caring for and looking after their patients' welfare, surgery residents undoubtedly encounter mental strains and physical challenges while balancing the professional and personal aspects of their lives. The question the thesis explores is: Will the reduction of surgery residents' work hours enable these novice physicians to lead more fulfilling personal lives without compromising their professional competence in caring for their patients?; Statistical data on the number of hours a surgery resident works and the number of cases these residents handle per week, other tasks for which they are responsible and the skills they must learn within four or five years of residency demonstrate the pros and cons of their current work conditions. These data further demonstrate correlations between such strict work conditions and incidence of misdiagnosis, patient death, complications, rate of recurrence, frustration for both the residents and patients, and a reduced rate of medical graduates applying to medical school and of residents finishing surgery training. Moreover, these data analyze through the utilitarian moral theory the impact of such work conditions on both surgery residents and their patients within the medical specialty of surgery.; Various studies conducted within the past decade on the educational system embodying surgery residency programs reveal the need to modify surgery residents' hours thereby increasing time residents can sleep, read, and spend personal time with their families and friends. Modifying surgery residents' work hours, as these various studies demonstrate, by scheduling these residents on-call days farther apart permits more time for residents to attend educational opportunities that will enhance their careers, interact with patients and colleagues, and spend personal time away from the hospital. Hence, scheduling certain hours of surgery residents' daily schedule into different professional activities will continue to promote the quality and skill by which they must care for patients while they balance their professional and personal lives.; This thesis shows that balancing professional and personal lives and reducing professional and personal stressors are possible for surgery residents to lead more fulfilling and healthier mental and physical lives. Nevertheless, several factors must be considered and evaluated before establishing a consensus within surgery residency programs. Directors and staff members of surgery residency programs, staff members of surgical departments, attending physicians, chief physicians, and surgery residents must continue to work together in establishing a residency program that will inspire surgical residents to lead fulfilling careers in the field of surgery and empower them to promote the well-being of patients at the highest possible standard.
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