Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fatigue and residency

When I was in residency, we had to complete on online training course on fatigue and depression.

The fatigue training course was kind of depressing (although the depression course wasn't fatiguing). The moral seemed to be:

1) You're definitely going to be tired during residency.

2) You need to use every moment of your free time for sleep. In fact, the following was a question:

You should use your free time to
(a) catch up on sleep
(b) spend time with family and friends
(c) pursue your hobbies
(d) moonlight

The answer was (a). You're not supposed to spend any time with family and friends or pursue any hobbies during residency.

3) Use caffeine to stay awake. They actually gave instructions on how to "use" caffeine, like it's a medication. You know, meth might help too.

4) If a resident gets into a car accident in New Jersey due to fatigue, they can be criminally prosecuted. So how the hell are you supposed to get home?


  1. During our pre-clinical Psych block, when we were learning about drug addiction, they showed us a movie about a med student who used cocaine to stay up late studying for school. It cost him about 10K per year to do it. I think he ended up being AOA. I don't think the message was supposed to be, "Use coke! It'll help you survive med school!" But a lot of us kind of came away with that impression.

    1. Oh my gosh! Similar experience here-- they held seminars led by psychiatrists during our first week of classes, and each example was a medical student using some kind of drug in order to survive med school. We all left feeling like we should be on Ritalin, anti-anxiety pills, anti-depressants, etc.

    2. I'm not in the medical field at all, so I'm curious: why don't residents use something like modafinil?

    3. I take the mini-pill because I can't take estrogen-based birth control, and modafinil drastically decreases the mini-pill's effectiveness. Otherwise I'd totally take that during residency!

  2. Fizzy, you're -not- supposed to get home, that's the whole point! Seems like New Jersey has residency perfected. :)

  3. Snarky is right. You are not supposed to go home. That way, the RN in charge can find an MD whenever he/she wants.

    Yeah, right. When did they system ever make it easier for RNs?

  4. Yup. If you were looking to hang out with your friends/family or spend time on a hobby DURING residency, you signed up for the wrong career.

    Honestly, I did my hanging out with family/friends mostly during college and high school. Now, most of my close friends are far away and I don't like to socialize that much. And, as for hobbies, the ones I have don't take that much time and I don't do them on a weekly basis.

    So, unless you're an overly social person with intricate hobbies or lots of them, I don't see the huge problem.

    1. I hope you're being ironic!
      I really think that medicine can't be my whole life. I pursue my hobbies, weekly. I'm just an intern though.

      What will you have when you don't have medicine?

    2. I never said you have to make medicine your whole life. Obviously, if you can't do medicine for whatever reason, then you can pursue other interests you have.

      But, going into residency thinking you're going to have enough time to do all of the above is naive.

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  6. I think some Ritalin would be good too.

  7. In my orientation last year, they said all of the above and then added,

    "We have taxi vouchers if someone is too tired to drive. We've never had to use them."