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Kelly Thibert, D.O., M.P.H, National President
American Medical Student Association
Phone: (703) 665-4786
Sterling, VA – November 7, 2016: The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has a mission that is built upon our members’ commitment to advocate for high quality health care, excellence in physician training, and the protection and promotion of the welfare of physicians-in-training and our patients.
On November 4th the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) made a proposal to alter the requirements for the number of hours worked by resident physicians. Their suggestion was to remove 16 consecutive-hour limit on first-year resident work shifts and instead allow them to work up to 28 hours straight. A proposal to allow first-year medical residents to work 28 hours in a row without sleep is a dangerous step backward and, if implemented, would expose residents, their patients and the general public to the risk of serious injury and death.
From the lens of medical education, a primary goal of residency training is for young physicians to learn. However, research has shown that acute and chronic sleep deprivation are detrimental to learning. If residents are not allowed to recuperate, they will not have the same cognitive abilities as if they were well rested and if we deny them of their full potential to learn, then the house of medicine has failed them.
Not only are residents and physicians-in-training concerned about this potential rollback in work hour restrictions. A recent public opinion poll orchestrated by Public Citizen revealed that more than four out of five Americans oppose any resident physician working more than 16 hours in a row without sleep. Thus making this an issue not only of medical education, but of public safety as well.
We will continue to ask that the ACGME: listen to the American public and reject any calls to remove the 16-consecutive-hour limit for interns and apply the 16-hour cap to all residents. We have a responsibility to ensure that we keep patients and trainees from harm, while providing the best care and education that we can. AMSA is urging the ACGME to ensure that we do no harm.
About AMSA: The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. AMSA is a student-governed, national organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. AMSA members are medical students, premedical students, interns, residents and practicing physicians. Founded in 1950, AMSA continues its commitment to improving medical training and the nation’s health through live and online education, advocacy activities, and local/regional chapter involvement.