Last February, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) threatened to withdraw approval of Yale’s general surgery residency program because of its 100-hour work weeks and every-other-night call schedule. After steps were taken to reduce hours [Summer 2002, “Surgical Residency Revamped” p. 7], the ACGME announced in October that the program would continue without interruption. “We are very pleased, and we are moving along,” said Director John H. Seashore, M.D. ’65, HS ’70, professor of pediatric surgery. The program now limits residents’ work weeks to 80 hours, cuts back the number of days they are on call and has added 12 physician associates and other staff to extend coverage.
Seashore said residents have traditionally worked long hours, often doing administrative work or patient transport, tasks that can be performed by others. The ACGME’s action, he said, prodded the medical school and Yale-New Haven Hospital to address a longstanding imbalance between education and service. “In some ways they are the ammunition that forces the institution to say ‘We’ve got to expend the resources to fix this,’” Seashore said. “In two years they will revisit us and there is no question in my mind that we will get full accreditation at that time.” The surgery program had held provisional status since merging with several other residency programs in 1995 and, under ACGME rules, had to be considered a new entity.