This Month's News
JAMA looks at "protected" sleep periods in special medical education issue
Each year, the Journal of the American Medical Association publishes a special theme issue on medical education. This year's edition, published on Dec. 5, includes several studies of note as well as important data on medical schools and residency/fellowship programs.
One study that received considerable media interest looked at "protected" sleep periods for medical interns working extended shifts. The study's authors concluded that such practices are feasible and can help improve alertness among interns.
At the same time, notes a commentary on duty hours and professionalism, "Old values do not simply die in a new system. Despite duty hour restrictions, today's trainees continue to exhibit behaviors consistent with ‘nostalgic professionalism,' defined as consistently placing a patient's or the profession's needs above one's own personal needs. However, at times these behaviors directly conflict with the current system of medical training."
A commentary on the critical role of international medical graduates (IMGs) in the nation's health care system considered the potential impacts if IMGs are increasingly squeezed out of graduate medical education (and consequently practice) in the United States, due to rising medical school enrollments nationwide combined with little growth in the number of residency slots.
A second study with medical workforce implications found that "even in primary care internal medicine residency programs dedicated to generalist and primary care training, a majority of graduates still reported plans to pursue subspecialty careers." In fact, a separate study, to appear in the January issue of Academic Medicine, found that, despite hefty medical school debt, a career in primary care or other lower-paying specialties is still a viable option for recent medical school graduates.