The Washington Post

Doctors need to learn to work through fatigue

Fewer hours for interns

I read your article about medical internships [“More work, but less time,” July 9] as someone who “suffered” through an internship in the early 1980s with shifts as long as 42 hours and weeks as long as 140 hours.

Yes, there was great fatigue. What your article did not address — and something that, looking back, I am grateful for — is the lifelong ability to function as a tired physician.

I learned a great deal during that internship, some of it medicine, of course, but much of it personal discipline. Now, as a 57-year-old physician with responsibility for covering emergencies over long periods of time, I’m most grateful for having learned how to make important decisions with little sleep. I have no choice now: Either I make those decisions, accurately and quickly, or potentially lose a patient. I hate to think of what the current trainees will be like when they’re my age and are faced with a 140-hour week.

Bradley Dick, Potomac

“Shorter workdays are increasing handoffs, which can cause errors as patients are transferred from doctor to doctor,” the article says. Perhaps there needs to be some emphasis on teaching doctors how to document handoffs instead of assuming that this is a negative experience.

As a nurse, I see many instances where communication barely occurs between doctors and/or facilities. The beginning of training for doctors seems like a good time to begin learning how to properly document the handoffs that will be a part of their entire medical career.

Carol Whitney, Silver Spring

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.