Background: To assess the impact of work hours' limitations required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) on residents' career satisfaction, emotions and attitudes. Methods: A validated survey instrument was used to assess residents' levels of career satisfaction, emotions and attitudes before and after the ACGME duty hour requirements were implemented. The "pre" implementation survey was distributed in December 2002 and the "post" implementation one in December 2004. Only the latter included work-hour related questions. Results: The response rates were 56% for the 2002 and 72% for the 2004 surveys respectively. Although career satisfaction remained unchanged, numerous changes occurred in both emotions and attitudes. Compared to those residents who did not violate work-hour requirements, those who did were significantly more negative in attitudes and emotions. Conclusion: With the implementation of the ACGME work hour limitations, the training experience became more negative for those residents who violated the work hour limits and had a small positive impact on those who did not violate them. Graduate medical education leaders must innovate to make the experiences for selected residents improved and still maintain compliance with the work hour requirements.
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