35% of residents think 1st-year residents working longer shifts will lead to more mistakes

Thirty-five percent of residents think a policy change that allows first-year residents to work more hours could lead to more accidents and errors, according to a new survey published by Medscape.   

The Medscape Residents Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2018 collected data from more than 1,900 residents in dozens of specialties, asking them about how their residency impacts their personal lives and numerous other topics.

Managing the balance between work and life continues to be residents’ greatest challenge, coming in No. 1 for the third straight year. “Dealing with the time pressures/demands on time” was voted the No. 2 greatest challenge. “Fear of failure or making a serious mistake” came in at No. 3.

With burnout so high in many healthcare specialties right now, including radiology, the survey also asked residents questions about depression and even if they had ever had suicidal thoughts. While 33 percent of respondents say they sometimes get depressed, 10 percent said they are depressed “always” or “most of the time.” Four percent said they prefer not to answer. Meanwhile, 10 percent answered that they had thought of suicide in the past, but had never attempted it. No respondents said they had attempted suicide. Again, four percent said they preferred not to answer.

In addition, 64 percent of respondents said a manageable work schedule is the best way to avoid burnout at work, making it the top answer. Forty-one percent answered that sufficient compensation helps avoid burnout, and 40 percent pointed to reasonable patent loads as a remedy.

Answering a related question, 65 percent of respondents said they do set aside time for personal wellness, either “sometimes” or “always/most of the time.”  

Some of Medscape’s questions examined the impact work can have on a resident’s ability to perform their job, something that directly impacts patient care. Five percent of respondents said they were too tired to function well “always/most of the time,” down from 19 percent in Medscape’s previous survey. However, 34 percent of respondents answered that they were too tired to function well “sometimes.”

Examining the impact of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s 2017 decision to let first-year residents work the same schedule as other residents and fellows, 35 percent of respondents said it could lead to more accidents and errors.