How many hours did you work this week? Tired? Too many things to do? A little overwhelmed? I am, and I worked exactly 4 billable hours this week. My husband worked 103.
Here's what his schedule looked like on paper:
M: 8am - 5pm
T: 8am - midnight
W: midnight - 10am
Th: 8am - 5pm
Fr: 8am - 5pm
Sa: 8am - midnight
Su: midnight - 10am
Total = 79 hours (just 1 hr shy of the newly reduced maximum number of hours that residents can work)
To me, that looks frighteningly unpleasant. Here's what he actually worked, forecasting conservatively for Sunday:
M: 7am - 9pm
T: 7am - midnight
W: midnight - 3pm
Th: 7am - 8pm
Fr: 7am - 9:30pm
Sa: 7:30am - midnight
Su: midnight - 1pm
Total = 103 hours
Look at those hours. Just look at them, and imagine them for yourself and your family. Not a wink of sleep was had anywhere in those overnight hours, and not one day did he get both lunch AND dinner. He eats before he leaves home, and he gets about 15 minutes every day to eat a sandwich and slam down a vitamin water or two before going back to work. He won't even carry around a bottle of water because it will mean he has to pee more and he doesn't have time to pee. Oh sure, he gets paid extra for the on-call shifts. It works out to $3/hr. Would you stay up for 32 consecutive hours, on your feet, handling 20 patients on your own and making life and death decisions for $3/hr? Me neither.
I could go on and on, but there's a pretty simple bottom line here:
If this schedule doesn't kill him, it WILL kill one of his patients.
Everyone knows this. Tired doctors are not good for patients. And yet...the system has figured out a way to make it look "acceptable" on paper, but it is not physically possible for residents to complete they work they need to do within the timeframe. So, they stay late. They come in early. They can't leave - they're responsible for people's lives.
I'm watching my husband struggle like I've never seen him struggle in his life, and he is not one to back down from hard work. We're both just hanging on, feeling like if we can just make it through two years of this, things will start to get better. But I have to tell you, from where we're standing, two years is a very, very long time.