In the past 15 years, there’s been a move to reduce the number of hours doctors spend on shift in the residency phase of their training, with the intention to improve patient safety and the doctors’ work-life balance. However, a recent review study suggests that such measures aren’t beneficial across the different specialties – in particular, for surgical residents. This study expanded on previous work, which has suggested that shorter hours for residents means more shift handovers, which in turn means less continuity of care and more opportunities for information to get lost. Shorter shifts may also reduce residents’ ability to observe the course of the patient’s recovery. The new review adds to these findings, describing how interns working fewer hours meant more work for senior residents or staff surgeons, resulting in potential burnout among these doctors. Study author calls for further analysis and better data on how to create a more realistic and efficient training environment for surgical trainees.

Corresponding author:

Dr. Najma Ahmed, Division of General Surgery, University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON, Email:

Original paper published in Academic Medicine on July 26, 2017.

Associated news story from St. Michael’s Hospital.