Working 36 hours straight is, by any definition, crazy. All of us, doctors and patients, should be questioning the safety of working young physicians around the clock. No wonder then that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently established guidelines that limit on-call nights to 24 hours and the work week to 80 hours. But I worry that these new guidelines might limit a young physician’s ability to learn how to practice medicine.

It is only 14 years since I was a resident on-call every third to fourth night in a busy children’s hospital. Hopefully, I have yet to be overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia for these days and nights. Indeed, it is quite easy to recollect how grueling this schedule was (and is). At a minimum, working for 24 to 36 hours at a stretch can make dealing with patients in a kind and empathic manner difficult....

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