Some medical residents at the University of Calgary are saying goodbye to the 24-hour shift, a move aimed at making doctors healthier and patients safer.
In Alberta, residents' shifts can run 24 hours, with some working up to 100 hours a week. It's a hectic, busy life for medical residents like Dr. David Ward, who says it can also be stressful.
"Often it’s hard to find time to eat, to drink, maybe even sometimes to remember go even to the bathroom."
That's not ideal, according to residents' association president Dr. Gillian Shiau.
"You want to help people and you can't necessarily do that when you're tired, or you can't do that necessarily as well."
A recent University of Calgary study replaced the 24-hour shift with shorter rotating shifts for some residents, who reported they were less prone to make errors and they were better able to learn, among other advantages.
The shorter shifts have now been adopted by some U of C medicine departments and others are looking at changes as well.
"Many of our departments are looking at the hours and trying to modify how residents work in order to allow better patient safety, better resident wellness and physician wellness," said Dr. Maureen Topps, associate dean for post-graduate medical education.