Its not unknown for doctors in EU countries to down their tools immediately when their shift-time is up, even if they were in the middle of performing a surgery! A 37 year-old English consultant related his experience here when the doctor assisting him said he had to go as it was his ‘home time’…right in the middle of a laparotomy. Ostensibly, the main reason for this is the implementation of the European Working Time Regulations (EWTR) in August 2009, which resulted in a reduced working week of 48 hours. (btw, ‘conventional’ hospital doctors work at least 60 hours, including weekends).
Imagine the uproar if this were to occur in non-EU countries, where such a law would be considered primitive! I can imagine human rights activists decrying the ‘lack of professionalism among the materialistic-minded doctors’.
Doctors trained to be specialists in the 1990s will remember that their working hours were necessarily long because they were matched with training time – the more time you had, the more training you received. Nowadays, this is no longer valid and the path for training to be a consultant is now shortened considerably. The main reason given is that there was (and still is) a lack of training posts. Fair enough.
Sociologists have an alternative explanation for this type of behaviour – that the X and Y generations treasure their personal quality time more than just slogging away at work. They don’t live for work, they work to live“. Read more here.
Old-time surgeons will have difficulty understanding the work ethics of their junior counterparts unless they fully grasp the workings of the minds of the Y generationers. Already, there are fears that the new EU rules are going to produce a generation of European doctors who will be “lazy, clock-watching junior surgeons”.
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