Residency

Tip of the week: Educate residents and faculty about fatigue

Residency Program Insider, May 20, 2008

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ACGME requirements mandate that you educate residents and faculty on how to recognize fatigue. In fact, a surveyor during an ACGME site visit may even ask residents if they have received education about fatigue and sleep deprivation.

 

Everyone has different requirements for sleep and many factors can affect how a lack of sleep impacts a person. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when educating faculty and residents on fatigue:

 

Naps help. When residents first realize that fatigue is on the horizon, they should take a short nap rather than waiting for exhaustion to set in. Residents should consider napping post-call too.

 

Do a reality check. The tendency is for residents to misjudge just how tired they are.  Residents should take this into consideration if feeling tired.

 

Take time to recover. Most residents (those who are younger than 40 years old) can take advantage of “recovery sleep.” Sleeping longer on their days off will wipe out their sleep debt.

 

Protect sleep time. The temptation to socialize, take care of errands, and spend time with family during off hours is considerable for residents. However, to get the recovery sleep needed, they shouldn’t indulge every temptation. Residents must protect their sleep time and ask their families and friends to respect that, especially before a long shift.

 

Being tired is like being drunk. Research shows that staying up for 18 hours or more has similar effects on performance as being legally drunk.

 

Caffeinate. Using caffeine—from coffee or soda— smartly can help residents stay alert while on-call.

 

Today’s tip comes from The Insider’s Guide to the ACGME Site Visit, Second Edition by Kathryn Andolsek, MD, MPH and Shepard Cohen.



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