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Naps for young doctors

September 29, 2010

About the Author

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Peter Wehrwein, Contributor, Harvard Health

Peter Wehrwein was the editor of the Harvard Health Letter from 1999 to May 2012. He is currently a freelance writer and editor, and contributes to the Harvard Health blog and Before editing the Health Letter, … See Full Bio
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baby cots
January 26, 2012

They should really have a nap.. Dont abuse your body!

Eric Weathersby
September 10, 2011

Obviously when a young resident works a continuous shift with out sleep or a nap, errors are inevitable so napping is an alternative to medical error and patient safety and should be embraced. However if that is not an option for some employers there is a new energy drink that does not have caffeine and is not spiked with sugar it is called Drink ACT. Drink ACT energy drinks works in minutes and lasts for is spike with essential vitamins and minerals that we need but rarely get. It will give doctors and interns alike that needed boost without the “crash”. But nothing will replace a good night sleep!
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July 13, 2011

I think they should get naps. Take advantage when you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to or would have to be up longer than planned. Wise words and take advantage of the time when you can. It’s very demanding job.

Allen Harp
January 3, 2011

Sorry, but the thought that we are “shortchanging our trainees by limiting their hours” reiks more of a fraternity hazing that quality training. Yes a practicing physician must be prepared for the worst and we certainly want all the experience for them possible. But the approach of taking 4 years of work hours and forcing them into a 1 to 2 year framework always has been a recipe for disaster. “We are endangering the American public, by training doctors who don’t have enough experience.” Well, we certainly aren’t going to train experienced, seasoned doctors are we? This sounds more like “I had to survive it so they should too”.

Lying in the ER waiting for help…I prefer to have the yawn of a resident just waking from a power nap than from a frazzled young man or woman at their mental worst from sleep deprivation. Where did these neanderthal concepts originate from to begin with?

Atanu Goswami
December 31, 2010

Very dicey and like a two edged sword long duty hours is a subject for debate. Long hours does not necessarily mean good training. It is a reflection of inadequateness of workforce. However in some ways long duty hours do help. The longer u are in duty the more u learn and that is how a resident progresses. We do 24 hour shifts but try to catch a nap whenever possible.

Owen Marcus
October 27, 2010

Naps are good for everyone. They improve everything, including the quality of life.

Richard Weiss
October 24, 2010

residents are expected to work 80 hour weeks is double the amount of the american work force. this is common sense.after working more than 12 hours fatigue and exhaustion diminish the mentation of anyone. i find it disingenuous that ACGME will not do the studies required.
will it be a rct randomized trial, meta-analysis, obsevational studies and all with statistical analysis,look for bias, errors in internal validity.

the sleep issue continues with no organization willing to design a study. Why? Why is the sleep dilemma continue? it seems that ACGME is stonewalling everyone and this becomes a political dragnet with the seemliness of the health care bill.

Fred Dennis
October 20, 2010

I disagree with Eric. Naps are for Emergency Docs. As a Residency Trained practicing Emergency Physician for over 20 years, having to work shift work is part of the job. And most sites don’t schedule blocks of nights then blocks of days. Naps keep me at peak performance. If my natural schedule is to be awake from 0600 to 2200, then working 1800 to 0200 or all of a sudden working a night shift can result in decreased performance at the end of the sift.
Most of us nap before going in for our first night shift. Many of us nap before working a late evening shift, not because we have nothing better to do, but rather over the years we’ve learned how to help shift our “body clocks” and maintain optimal performance.
On the other hand there is something to be said about experiencing extremes of stress during your Residency so that you learn you limits in a setting with backup.

Ana Jeronimo
October 6, 2010

If we need trainees to stay awake working for 48h in a row to get practice and training, that is the proof of the failure in every training program in Medicine. No doctor in Europe needs that intensive training to get expertise and we sure have good doctors in Europe… How can anyone learn something after a 24 hours shift with no sleep? That is the perfect excuse to take away the responsability from specialists, and to keep a cheap labour working force. I´m surprised how Americans accept that, how can they accept their relatives to be treated by unsupervised and inexperient doctors that are kept awake and working for such long hours… in a country where legal conflits are so intense because of much less important issues.

Eric Cohen
September 30, 2010

Naps are for babies.

We are shortchanging our trainees by limiting their hours.
We are endangering the American public, by training doctors who don’t have enough experience.

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