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J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Jan;22(1):102-6.

Internal medicine residents reject "longer and gentler" training.

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  • 1Division of Ambulatory Care, Department of Internal Medicine, Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Denver, CO 80220, USA. Ravi.Gopal@med.va.gov



Increasing complexity of medical care, coupled with limits on resident work hours, has prompted consideration of extending Internal Medicine training. It is unclear whether further hour reductions and extension of training beyond the current duration of 3 years would be accepted by trainees.


We aimed to determine if further work-hour reductions and extension of training would be accepted by trainees and whether resident burnout affects their opinions.


A postal survey was sent to all 143 Internal Medicine residents at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in May 2004.


The survey contained questions related to opinions on work-hour limits using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Burnout was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, organized into three subscales: emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP), and personal accomplishment, with burnout defined as high EE or DP.


Seventy-four percent (106/143) of residents returned the survey. The vast majority (84%) of residents disagreed or strongly disagreed with extending training to 4 or 5 years. Burnout residents were less averse to extending training (strongly agree or agree, 18.9% vs 4.3%, P = .04). The majority of residents (68.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with establishing a 60-hour/week limit. Residents who met the criteria for burnout were more likely to agree that a 60-hour limit would be better than an 80-hour limit (strongly agree or agree, 22% vs 8%, P = .02).


In this program, most Internal Medicine residents are strongly opposed to extending their training to 4 or 5 years and would prefer the current 80 hours/week cap. A longer, less intense pace of Internal Medicine training seems to be less attractive in the eyes of current trainees.

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