Print this page Email this page Users Online: 1347 | Click here to view old website
Home About us Editorial Board Search Current Issue Archives Submit Article Author Instructions Contact Us Login 


 
 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 118-123

Residents' and attendings' perceptions of a night float system in an internal medicine program in Canada


1 Department of Pathology; Dean's Office, Postgraduate Medical Education, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
2 Dean's Office, Postgraduate Medical Education, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
3 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2015

Correspondence Address:
Anurag Saxena
Room 402, St. Andrews College, PGME, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 1121 College Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W3
Canada
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: This project was funded by the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan., Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.170125

  Abstract 

Background: The Night Float system (NFS) is often used in residency training programs to meet work hour regulations. The purpose of this study was to examine resident and attendings' perceptions of the NFS on issues of resident learning, well-being, work, non-educational activities and the health care system (patient safety and quality of care, inter-professional teams, workload on attendings and costs of on-call coverage). Methods: A survey questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions (26 residents and eight attendings in an Internal Medicine program), informal discussions with the program and moonlighting and financial data were collected. Results and Discussion: The main findings included, (i) an overall congruency in opinions between resident and attendings across all mean comparisons, (ii) perceptions of improvement for most aspects of resident well-being (e.g. stress, fatigue) and work environment (e.g. supervision, support), (iii) a neutral effect on the resident learning environment, except resident opinions on an increase in opportunities for learning, (iv) perceptions of improved patient safety and quality of care despite worsened continuity of care, and (v) no increases in work-load on attendings or the health care system (cost-neutral call coverage). Patient safety, handovers and increased utilization of moonlighting opportunities need further exploration.

Keywords: Health care system, night float system, resident duty hours, resident education


How to cite this article:
Saxena A, Desanghere L, Skomro RP, Wilson TW. Residents' and attendings' perceptions of a night float system in an internal medicine program in Canada. Educ Health 2015;28:118-23

How to cite this URL:
Saxena A, Desanghere L, Skomro RP, Wilson TW. Residents' and attendings' perceptions of a night float system in an internal medicine program in Canada. Educ Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jun 5];28:118-23. Available from: http://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2015/28/2/118/170125


  Background Top


Resident duty hours (RDHs) include all time spent in scheduled clinical and academic activities related to the residency program including: Patient-care, administrative duties, in-house call activities and scheduled learning activities.[1] However, extended work hours and attendant sleep deprivation pose risks to the health of residents and can affect their cognitive and behavioral performance,[2],[3],[4],[5],[6] which can compromise patient safety. These safety concerns have been the main impetus driving RDH reforms.[1]

In Canada, a uniform nationwide policy governing RDHs does not exist, with shift lengths ranging from 16 h in Quebec to up to 24–26 h in other provinces.[7] As a way to address increased concerns of RDHs, many institutions have implemented a Night Float System (NFS),[8] which typically involves consecutive shifts of 10–12 h or alternate nights of longer shifts.[1] Although this system offers a potential solution in addressing RDH restrictions, changes in educational experiences and the effectiveness of the system have resulted in conflicting results in terms of benefits for resident wellness, learning and patient safety (for review see [7]). For example, research has shown that residents during night float (NF) rotations felt there was less emphasis placed on educational activities,[9],[10],[11],[12] with studies demonstrating a decrease in resident involvement in these activities during their NF rotations.[10] Some research indicates overall negative attitudes from residents, nurses and attendings about the NFS in general.[13] Indeed, some institutions have abandoned the use of the NFS because of perceptions of affected delivery of care in terms of cohesiveness, team spirit and continuity.[14] Conversely, other research [9] has shown the opposite to be true, with residents favoring the NFS over traditional call and believing that it results in fewer medical errors (for review see [15]).

Given the inconsistent results in the literature on the effects of the NFS, the purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of residents and attendings on the impact of the NFS in an Internal Medicine residency program. Since the implementation of such systems necessarily changes many ways in which medical education and health care are delivered, the results from this study will help programs make informed changes when working to effectively reduce RDHs.


  Methods Top


The NFS

The NFS at this institution was implemented on July 1, 2012 and was structured in 12-h shifts, five shifts per week, for second and third year (senior) residents. During the previous call system, senior residents were on-call during the nights they covered and typically stayed in hospital until 5 p.m., receiving call throughout the night thereafter. Under the NFS, residents are expected to remain in the hospital from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., followed by home call for the remainder of their shift.

It was anticipated that the NFS would have a positive impact on resident learning, work and well-being. For example, the NF structure required schedules to be arranged a year in advance, enabling residents to book conferences, holidays, rounds and clinics; these educational and personal priorities were harder to commit to under the previous system where the schedule was only organized 4–8 weeks in advance. As well, residents were not scheduled for work the day after their NF shift, a change that was anticipated to impact both resident well-being and participation in education-related activities (e.g., academic half days) by decreasing resident fatigue. The NFS also enabled senior residents more opportunities for bedside teaching and observation of patient assessments performed by junior residents. Under the old system there were no requirements to be in-house and first year residents were frequently unassisted and unobserved in their patient assessments.

Participants

Twenty-six residents (female = 13; 53% response rate) and eight attendings (27% response rate) participated in this study. All participants were from the Internal Medicine program at the University of Saskatchewan, which has its primary teaching and training sites at the Royal University Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital-two tertiary care hospitals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. All participants had experience with the previous night call system and the newly implemented NFS. Data was initially collected as part of a quality assurance and improvement project and was exempt from Behavioral Research Ethics review at the University of Saskatchewan.

Materials and procedure

An online survey was designed to assess perceptions of the impact of the NFS on residents and the health care system (not all questions were asked to both residents and attendings, [Figure 1]). Responses to questions were evaluated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = completely disagree; 5 = completely agree). [Figure 1] displays the overarching themes along with the abbreviated questions within each theme. Three of these topics (improved resident stress, improved opportunity for learning, and improved patient safety,) were composed of several specific questions [Table 1]. These scales had acceptable levels of internal consistency for exploratory studies (recommended minimum Cronbach's alpha of 0.6),[16],[17] as determined by Cronbach alpha's of 0.60, 0.77 and 0.89, respectively. An open-ended question inviting any comments regarding the NFS was included at the end of the survey. All responses were anonymous, and participation was completely voluntary. To ensure residents and attendings did not feel obligated to answer the survey because of pressures of authority, all survey links were sent out through program administrators and participants were ensured of the anonymity of their responses.
Figure 1: Displays the mean responses, standard errors and 95% confidence intervals of residents and attendings across four themes related to the impact of the NFS on residents and three themes related to the impact of the NFS on the health care system. Mean responses plotted between the dashed lines represent a neutral response, indicating that aspect did not change with the implementation of the NFS. Any means below or above those points represent disagreement or agreement with the improvement of that particular aspect

Click here to view
Table 1: Displays three overarching topics used in the survey and lists the questions comprising those topics. Internal consistency (Cronbachs alpha) is listed for each scaled item. Overall scores are depicted in [Figure 1]

Click here to view


Information on moonlighting and financial aspects were obtained from the data bases in the College of Medicine. Descriptive statistics and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to characterize and examine differences between resident and attendings responses. Content analysis was used to extract themes from the open-ended responses.


  Results Top


Open-ended responses were provided by 27% of residents and 33% of attendings. [Figure 1] displays the data from each survey question; mean values falling above 2.5 and below 3.5 are categorized as having a "neutral" effect, suggesting no changes after the implementation of the NFS. For questions posed to both residents and attendings, Mann–Whitney U tests showed no significant differences in the mean responses (P > 0.05), demonstrating an overall congruency in perceptions between groups on the impact of the NFS across all themes.


  Implementation of the Nfs and Its Impact on Residents Top


Resident learning

Residents felt that the NFS improved opportunities for learning (e.g., reading, simulation training, increased opportunities for learning); perceptions for all other aspects of learning did not change [Figure 1]a. Open-ended comments suggested that the NFS led to: (a) A better operation of the clinical teaching unit (CTU) with more availability of senior residents to teach, better management of the team, more time for interdisciplinary rounds, and higher morale, and (b) a reduction in the number of call shifts throughout the year that allowed for better learning experiences while on subspecialty rotations.

Resident work

Residents felt that the NFS had a positive impact their work through better support and supervision [Figure 1]b. Although residents felt that the work associated with handovers and their overall workload was reduced under the NFS, the attendings did not have similar perceptions.

Resident well-being

Both residents and attendings agreed that the NFS reduced resident stress and fatigue. Although residents reported increased alertness when woken and an improved social life, attendings thought that these aspects had not changed. Residents and attendings also differed in their opinions on the amount and quality of resident sleep; attendings believed that there was an improvement, whereas residents did not believe these to have changed [Figure 1]c. Open-ended responses from residents reflected an improved work-life balance due to reductions in postcall days taken off rotation as well as fewer call shifts throughout most of the months. Attendings' (n = 2) impressions were that the NFS had a beneficial net effect on well-being due to a reduction in the overall call frequency throughout the year.

Residents' non-educational activities

Neither residents nor attendings believed the NFS enabled residents to start moonlighting or that there was an increase in the moonlighting frequency [Figure 1]d. However, a review of the actual moonlighting data for 18 months preceding (9 requests) and following (23 requests) the implementation of NFS showed significant differences in moonlighting requests [χ2( 1) =6.125, P = 0.013].


  Implementation of the Nfs and Its Impact on the Health Care System Top


Patient safety and quality of care

Participants agreed that the NFS helped improve patient safety and quality of care despite the attendings' perceptions that the continuity of care worsened after the implementation of the NFS [Figure 1]e. Open-ended responses also reflected improved quality of care and attributed this to higher diligence due to NF permitting more rest.

Inter-professional teams

Neither the residents nor the attendings believed that the NFS increased provision of care by inter-professional teams [Figure 1]f. Residents were concerned that the increased frequency of handovers and a lack of familiarity with patients could result in less clinical information being available for other team members and less flow of information among the inter-professional teams.

Work-load

All participants agreed that the NFS did not increase workload on either the health care system or on the attendings [Figure 1]g. Informal discussions within the program highlighted occasional concerns including non-committal attitudes of some residents towards patients, admitting a higher number of patients while on night call, and not gaining realistic exposure during residency of night-call due to the shorter length and frequency of shifts.

Examination of the on-call schedule and associated costs for the 10 months prior versus after the implementation of the NFS did not reveal any increases in expenses for on-call coverage. In addition, there were no increases in the requirement for ancillary staff to provide coverage during the NF operation.


  Discussion Top


There is evidence for both the detrimental [10],[11],[18] and positive [18],[19],[20],[21],[22] effects of reducing RDHs through such methods as a NFS. Given the controversy, we aimed to distinguish perceptions of the impact of a NFS from both residents and attendings in an Internal Medicine Program in Canada. Our results showed two overarching findings. First, there was an overall congruency in the opinions between residents and attendings across the themes in how the NFS has affected the residents and its impact on the health care system. The congruency in these perceptions is important because it provides more confidence in how changes in the call system affect resident learning and patient care. Although the mean responses across participants for improved quality and amount of sleep were not statistically different, we still saw that most attendings believed these aspects to have improved, whereas only half of residents reported this as accurate. Incongruent perceptions such as this on aspects of resident well-being could potentially have implications on attendings' assessments and opinions of the residents.

Second, the NFS implementation was perceived to not have adversely affected any aspect of resident learning or the health care system, except the continuity of care where attendings believed this aspect to have worsened; and even this, in their opinion did not affect patient safety or quality of care. The effects of the NFS were perceived as either an improvement (resident well being, resident working environment, patient safety and quality of care, increased quality and opportunity for learning) or no effect. The perceived benefits on resident learning could result from several factors including opportunities for more structured teaching for and by residents, better consult processes since senior residents are contacted first by the consulting physicians followed by appropriate delegation by the senior residents to the junior residents thereby creating opportunities for teaching/learning of intrinsic CanMEDS roles such as communicator and manager roles.

Extended duty hours have been associated with high levels of fatigue, burnout and psychological distress.[23],[24],[25],[26],[27] In our study, the residents believed that their stress, fatigue, alertness and social life had improved after the implementation of the NFS, while attendings perceived improved amount and quality of sleep in addition to improved stress and reduced fatigue. Improved resident well-being has been shown to be associated with increased quality of care,[28],[29],[30],[31],[32] a finding corroborated in our study where residents and attendings believed that patient safety and quality of care had improved.

Although residents did not believe that the NFS enabled or increased the amount of moonlighting, official requests for this opportunity were found to increase after the implementation of this system. This could simply be a reflection of rules around moonlighting, which limit moonlighting to weekends only. For example, the residents who get off at 0730 on Friday could moonlight on Saturday (0800–2400) and go back to work at 1930 on Sunday. These explanations are important to ensure that increased moonlighting requests are perceived appropriately preventing sweeping generalizations about how residents use their time.

Our finding that the continuity of care was perceived to be negatively affected is supported by other studies, which have demonstrated that more interruptions to continuity of patient care occur as a result of RDH restrictions in particular [18],[33] and after a NFS implementation in general.[10],[11],[34],[35] While these studies showed that patient satisfaction and safety were actually negatively impacted due to disruptions of patient care, our study did not directly assess these aspects; both residents and attendings reported perceptions of improved patient safety and quality of care, a finding that is consistent with other studies, which showed lower morality rates, decreases in surgical complications and missed radiological diagnoses following the NF implementation (for review see [15]). The positive or neutral responses in our study could be the result of residents being committed to one service only, allowing better handovers and time to focus on that specific service.

The NFS did not affect provision of care by inter-professional teams, this is not surprising since most inter-professional interactions occur during daytime hours. There was no perceived increase in work-load on attendings or the health care system in general, an important finding indicating that modifications in RDH do not necessarily increase the need for additional health care professionals. Finally, the NFS did not increase on-call costs and appears to have affected the system positively.

Limitations

The limitations of our study include (a) low response rates and thus a small sample size, (b) the questionnaire not being validated prior to the study being performed and (c) the changes in actual physician behavior and the effects on patient care were not directly measured.


  Conclusions Top


Overall, our study indicates that reductions to RDHs, via the NFS, have mainly positive (resident well-being, work environment, increased opportunity for learning, improved patient safety and quality of care – despite perceptions of worsened continuity of care, increased quality and opportunity for learning and cost-neutral effects for on-call work) or neutral (all other aspects) effects. Patient safety, handover issues and increased utilization of moonlighting opportunities need to be further investigated. In Canada, many program directors are faced with little and non-directive evidence-based results regarding the impact of RDH reductions.[7] The perceptions of residents and attendings on aspects of resident well-being, work, learning and non-educational activities, as well as the impact on the health care system, provide valuable information on the consequences and impact to changes in RDHs, which can be used to help inform future changes to programs.


  Acknowledgements Top


The authors would like to thank Jennifer Dybvig for her assistance in compiling the resident moonlighting and financial data.

 
  References Top

1.
National Steering Committee on Resident Duty Hours. Fatigue, Risk and Excellence: Towards a Pan-Canadian Consensus on Resident Duty Hours. Ottowa, Ontario: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Barger LK, Cade BE, Ayas NT, Cronin JW, Rosner B, Speizer FE, et al. Extended work shifts and the risk of motor vehicle crashes among interns. N Engl J Med 2005;352:125-34.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Ayas NT, Barger LK, Cade BE, Hashimoto DM, Rosner B, Cronin JW, et al. Extended work duration and the risk of self-reported percutaneous injuries in interns. JAMA 2006;296:1055-62.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Koslowsky M, Babkoff H. Meta-analysis of the relationship between total sleep deprivation and performance. Chronobiol Int 1992;9:132-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Pilcher JJ, Huffcutt AI. Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: A meta-analysis. Sleep 1996;19:318-26.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Philibert I. Sleep loss and performance in residents and nonphysicians: A meta-analytic examination. Sleep 2005;28:1392-402.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Pattani R, Wu PE, Dhalla IA. Resident duty hours in Canada: Past, present and future. CMAJ 2014;186:761-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Wallach SL, Alam K, Diaz N, Shine D. How do internal medicine residency programs evaluate their resident float experiences? South Med J 2006;99:919-23.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Jasti H, Hanusa BH, Switzer GE, Granieri R, Elnicki M. Residents' perceptions of a night float system. BMC Med Educ 2009;9:52.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Lefrak S, Miller S, Schirmer B, Sanfey H. The night float system: ensuring educational benefit. Am J Surg 2005;189:639-42.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Luks AM, Smith CS, Robins L, Wipf JE. Resident perceptions of the educational value of night float rotations. Teach Learn Med 2010;22:196-201.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Bricker DA, Markert RJ. Night float teaching and learning: Perceptions of residents and faculty. J Grad Med Educ 2010;2:236-41.  Back to cited text no. 12
[PUBMED]    
13.
Akl EA, Bais A, Rich E, Izzo J, Grant BJ, Schünemann HJ. Brief report: Internal medicine residents', attendings', and nurses' perceptions of the night float system. J Gen Intern Med 2006;21:494-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Zahrai A, Chahal J, Stojimirovic D, Schemitsch EH, Yee A, Kraemer W. Quality of life and educational benefit among orthopedic surgery residents: a prospective, multicentre comparison of the night float and the standard call systems. Can J Surg 2011;54:25-32.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Reed DA, Fletcher KE, Arora VM. Systematic review: association of shift length, protected sleep time, and night float with patient care, residents' health, and education. Ann Intern Med 2010;153:829-42.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Nunnally JC. Psychometric Theory. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1978.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Robinson JP, Shaver PR, Wrightsman LS. Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes. San Diego: Academic Press; 1991.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Myers JS, Bellini LM, Morris JB, Graham D, Katz J, Potts JR, et al. Internal medicine and general surgery residents' attitudes about the ACGME duty hours regulations: a multicenter study. Acad Med 2006;81:1052-8.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Goldstein MJ, Kim E, Widmann WD, Hardy MA. A 360 degrees evaluation of a night-float system for general surgery: A response to mandated work-hours reduction. Curr Surg 2004;61:445-51.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Ogden PE, Sibbitt S, Howell M, Rice D, O'Brien J, Aguirre R, et al. Complying with ACGME resident duty hours restrictions: Restructuring the 80-hour workweek to enhance education and patient safety at Texas A and M/Scott and White Memorial Hospital. Acad Med 2006;81:1026-31.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Goitein L, Shanafelt TD, Wipf JE, Slatore CG, Back AL. The effects of work-hour limitations on resident well-being, patient care, and education in an internal medicine residency program. Arch Intern Med 2005;165:2601-6.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Jonovich MR, Bisognano J, Eichelberger J. Cardiology night float experience. Poster presented at the Annual Scientific Session and Expo; 2012 March 27, JACC 2012;59 (13s1):E1872-E1872.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Shanafelt TD, Bradley KA, Wipf JE, Back AL. Burnout and self-reported patient care in an internal medicine residency program. Ann Intern Med 2002;136:358-67.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
Zaré SM, Galanko J, Behrns KE, Koruda MJ, Boyle LM, Farley DR, et al. Psychological well-being of surgery residents before the 80-hour work week: A multiinstitutional study. J Am Coll Surg 2004;198:633-40.  Back to cited text no. 24
    
25.
Rosen IM, Bellini LM, Shea JA. Sleep behaviors and attitudes among internal medicine housestaff in a U.S. university-based residency program. Acad Med 2004;79:407-16.  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Papp KK, Stoller EP, Sage P, Aikens JE, Owens J, Avidan A, et al. The effects of sleep loss and fatigue on resident-physicians: A multi-institutional, mixed-method study. Acad Med 2004;79:394-406.  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Thomas NK. Resident burnout. JAMA 2004;292:2880-9.  Back to cited text no. 27
    
28.
Veasey S, Rosen R, Barzansky B, Rosen I, Owens J. Sleep loss and fatigue in residency training: A reappraisal. JAMA 2002;288:1116-24.  Back to cited text no. 28
    
29.
Baldwin DC Jr, Daugherty SR, Tsai R, Scotti MJ Jr. A national survey of residents' self-reported work hours: Thinking beyond specialty. Acad Med 2003;78:1154-63.  Back to cited text no. 29
    
30.
Lockley SW, Cronin JW, Evans EE, Cade BE, Lee CJ, Landrigan CP, et al. Effect of reducing interns' weekly work hours on sleep and attentional failures. N Engl J Med 2004;351:1829-37.  Back to cited text no. 30
    
31.
Landrigan CP, Rothschild JM, Cronin JW, Kaushal R, Burdick E, Katz JT, et al. Effect of reducing interns' work hours on serious medical errors in intensive care units. N Engl J Med 2004;351:1838-48.  Back to cited text no. 31
    
32.
Weinger MB, Ancoli-Israel S. Sleep deprivation and clinical performance. JAMA 2002;287:955-7.  Back to cited text no. 32
    
33.
Sen S, Kranzler HR, Didwania AK, Schwartz AC, Amarnath S, Kolars JC, et al. Effects of the 2011 duty hour reforms on interns and their patients: A prospective longitudinal cohort study. JAMA Intern Med 2013;173:657-62.  Back to cited text no. 33
    
34.
Buff DD, Shabti R. The night float system of resident on call: What do the nurses think? J Gen Intern Med 1995;10:400-2.  Back to cited text no. 34
    
35.
Cavallo A, Ris MD, Succop P. The night float paradigm to decrease sleep deprivation: good solution or a new problem? Ergonomics 2003;46:653-63.  Back to cited text no. 35
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1]


This article has been cited by
1 Exploring the impact of overnight call stress on anaesthesiology senior residentsí perceived ability to learn and teach in an Asian healthcare system: A qualitative study
Leonard Wei Wen Loh,John Song En Lee,Raymond Wee Lip Goy
Trends in Anaesthesia and Critical Care. 2019;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 A Night Float Week in a Surgical Clerkship Improves Student Team Cohesion
Christopher R. Connelly,Phillip M. Kemp Bohan,Mackenzie R. Cook,Alexis M. Moren,Martin A. Schreiber,Laszlo N. Kiraly
The American Journal of Surgery. 2016;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]



 

Top
 
 
  Search
 
Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

 
  In this article
Abstract
Background
Methods
Results
Implementation o...
Implementation o...
Discussion
Conclusions
Acknowledgements
References
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed2733    
    Printed52    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded451    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal