Context: Block scheduling during residency is an innovative model in which in-patient and ambulatory rotations are separated. We hypothesised that this format may have a positive impact on resident sleep and wellness in comparison with a traditional format. Methods: We performed a single-centre, cross-sectional, observational study of residents rotating in the medical intensive care unit (MICU). Residents were observed for 4 weeks at a time: internal medicine (IM) residents were observed for 3 weeks in the MICU followed by 1 week in an ambulatory context, and non-IM residents were observed for 4 weeks in the MICU. We monitored daily total sleep time (TST) utilising actigraphy, and wellness measures with weekly Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) questionnaires. Results: A total of 64 of 110 (58%) eligible residents participated; data for 49 of 110 (45%) were included in the final analysis. Mean ± standard deviation (SD) daily TST in the entire cohort was 6.53 ± 0.78 hours. Residents slept significantly longer during the ambulatory block than during the MICU block (mean ± SD TST 6.97 ± 1.00 hours and 6.43 ± 0.78 hours, respectively; p < 0.0005). Sleep duration during night call was significantly shorter than during day shift (mean ± SD TST 6.07 ± 1.16 hours and 6.50 ± 0.73 hours, respectively; p < 0.0005). A total of 390 of 490 (80%) ESS and PSS questionnaires were completed; scores significantly declined during rotations in the MICU. Internal medicine residents showed significant improvements in TST, and in ESS and PSS scores (p < 0.05) at the end of the ambulatory week. Non-IM residents, who remained in the MICU for a fourth week, continued a trend that showed a decline in perceived wellness. Conclusions: Despite duty hour restrictions, residents obtain inadequate sleep. As MICU days accumulate, measures of resident wellness decline. Residents in a block schedule experienced improvements in all measured parameters during the ambulatory week, whereas residents in a traditional schedule continued a downward trend. Block scheduling may have the previously unrecognised benefits of repaying sleep debt, correcting circadian misalignment and improving wellness.
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