Hazing News

The question is not “how can medical doctors sleep at night?” but rather, why won’t they let their interns sleep?

Hospital hazing: death by licensing
Reason,  May, 2005  by Jesse Walker

A REPORT IN the January 13 New England Journal of Medicine argues, with mathematical exactitude, that you’re more likely to get into an accident driving home from the hospital if you’ve just spent 32 hours working there. That shouldn’t be a surprise, but evidently it’s a point that needs to be driven home. Shifts of 24 hours or more are “a hallmark of medical education in the United States,” the paper notes. What’s more, such conditions are not imposed in the face of regulatory opposition but “sanctioned by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.” (The Council has added new limits to interns’ work hours since the study was concluded, but shifts can still last as much as 24 hours.)

This setup still has defenders, despite decades of evidence that it puts not just drivers but patients at risk. When The Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum commented on the New England Journal article, he remarked that the system’s supporters “sound like nothing so much as a bunch of ’50s frat boys defending hazing after some freshman has been found dead in an arroyo somewhere.” Hazing is the perfect metaphor, since the system serves mostly as a brutal initiation to a privileged club.

Those long shifts are part of the set of barriers that limit entry to the medical profession. Whatever other reasons exist for them, they’re ultimately a byproduct of occupational licensing. They don’t just undermine public health. They drive away qualified men and women, reducing the supply of doctors and allowing those who survive the trial to charge more for their services.
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By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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