Resident Work Hours

a. The American Academy of Family Physicians opposes government regulation of resident work hours.

b. The AAFP opposes 24-hour work limits or any other consecutive time constraints as these can compromise patient care and residency education as well as limit flexibility of scheduling within individual residency programs.

c. The AAFP supports the concept that the time residents spend delivering patient care services of marginal or no educational value should be minimized.

d. The AAFP supports maintaining the Review Committee for Family Medicine (RC-FM) as the primary regulatory entity of the family medicine practice residency standards, including resident work hours. However, the AAFP calls on the RC-FM to institute more effective enforcement of these standards.

The development of further restrictions on work hours should consider the following:

  1. Accrediting organizations will commission research studies to more closely examine the impact of duty hours on: patient safety/medical errors, preparedness of the resident for independent practice, and faculty and their availability for teaching.
  2. Accrediting organizations will not support further duty hours restrictions without the economic support necessary to prevent program closures due to resulting fiscal insolvency.

Physicians have an ethical duty to their patients and profession to provide safe, compassionate, quality medical care. These duties depend on a safe and healthy working environment for resident physicians. To this end, resident assignments must be made in such a way as to prevent excessive patient care responsibilities, inappropriate intensity of service or case mix, and excessive length and frequency of call contributing to excessive fatigue and sleep deprivation.

Programs must have formal mechanisms specifically designed for promotion of physician well-being and prevention of impairment. There also should be a structured and facilitated group designed for resident support that meets on a regular schedule.

Residency programs should have written guidelines governing resident duty hours and should inform all resident of these guidelines.

Residents should have the right to confidentially report work hour violations to the RC-FM and each residency program should inform residents of this right. (March BOD 2002) (2015 COD)