Jennifer Rodney, MD, a fifth-year resident physician in the department of otorhinolaryngology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, never really understood the work hours limitation on first-year interns. Under rules put in place in 2011, first-years were limited to 16-hour shifts, while other physicians could still work 24-hour shifts.
Under revised rules that went into effect July 1, 2017, that limitation was lifted and all residents can work the same number of hours.
Good, said Dr. Rodney.
“It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to have the limitation and have them have to clock out at a certain time each day,” she said. “And when July 1 hit this year, all of a sudden that rule doesn’t apply, and they have to stay until the end of the day when the patient is done being seen. That’s the thing about medicine. … You can’t go home at a certain hour. You go home when your patients are taken care of. It was just unrealistic to treat an intern differently than the rest of the residents, because they’re going to be out of that position the next year anyway.”