A 36-Hour Shift in the Life of Indian Resident Doctors

Medicine as a profession is not everyone's cup of tea. From grinding yourself into the textbooks, and memorizing every other detail, to practicing it in real life is a task. Oh! And you have to do all of this almost every day for the rest of your life. Let us elaborate on this further. Being a resident doctor is a task on its own.

Resident physicians sometimes manage many cases simultaneously, making for an intensive workload. Since there is little time for rest and recuperation due to hectic schedules, sleep deprivation is a regular companion. Nevertheless, resident physicians are involved in an ongoing cycle of training and learning in the middle of the mayhem. To provide their patients with the finest care possible, they must continuously improve their abilities and stay up to date on the most recent developments in medicine and treatment regimens. To provide optimal patient care and improve healthcare outcomes, it is imperative to recognize the difficulties encountered by resident physicians. Healthcare organizations can reduce the likelihood of medical errors and guarantee the provision of safe, high-quality care by addressing concerns like burnout, stress, and exhaustion. 

Doctor’s Morning Routine

What would a typical routine for a residential doctor look like? To be honest, doctors don't necessarily have a rise-and-shine morning routine, it is accompanied by late-night emergencies, early-morning emergencies, and sometimes a morning in the hospital itself. Besides these ideal situations, a doctor's typical morning would begin hastily wearing their medical scrubs. A short spritz of water on the face is a weak attempt to remove the remaining sleepiness. If there's time for breakfast, it's a hurried affair, a quick bite eaten in between the responsibilities of the day.

The streets are still shrouded in the serene serenity of the early morning hours when they travel to the hospital or clinic. For the resident physician, the day has already begun even though the outside world is only getting started. As they arrive at work, they become part of the flurry of activity that heralds the beginning of yet another day on the front lines of healthcare.

Commutation Challenges

For resident doctors, commute difficulties are a major obstacle that affects their daily schedule and general well-being. These challenges, which range from dealing with heavy traffic to dealing with erratic public transportation, can cause tension, tardiness, and decreased sleep duration. This could lead to a reduction in personal satisfaction, a disruption in workflow, and a compromise in the quality of patient care. Resolving these issues calls for all-encompassing solutions, such as enhanced transit systems, adjustable schedules, and assistance programs to lessen the workload of resident physicians. Healthcare organizations may create a more favorable atmosphere for resident physicians to flourish both personally and professionally by easing their journey, which will ultimately improve patient care outcomes.

Duties and Tasks

A resident doctor's day must include both morning briefings and assignment distribution because they provide the framework for patient care and teamwork among medical professionals. These meetings usually take place early in the day, before the start of clinical tasks or patient rounds.

Senior medical staff members, such as attending physicians or senior residents, get together for the morning briefing to go over important information. Updates on patients' conditions, modifications to treatment schedules, the outcomes of diagnostic testing, and any recent admissions may fall under this category. These briefings make sure that everyone on the medical team is aware of the objectives and plans for patient care for the upcoming day.

In Case of Emergency

Emergencies are another very important aspect for a doctor. Resident physicians must act quickly to assess the issue, start emergency protocols, and work closely with the healthcare team while managing unplanned emergencies and critical situations. They collaborate with nurses, specialists, and emergency department personnel to plan patient care, communicate clearly, and guarantee prompt treatments. During these trying times, they play a crucial role in advising experts, fighting for the resources that are required, and supporting patients and families. By working well together and communicating effectively, resident physicians may maximize patient outcomes and provide superior care during crucial situations.

Meals, Rest, and Personal Life

Doctors do not get a proper time for their meals let alone do we really think doctors have a personal life. Doctors with a balanced work-personal life is a poles apart situation. For them, the weight is higher on the work life.Due to the intense nature of their schedules and the unpredictability of healthcare environments, resident doctors frequently struggle with having little time for meals and rest. Their physical and mental health may suffer significantly as a result of this restriction on their time.Resident physicians frequently find themselves with little time for fast meals during their hectic shifts. Between patient consultations, surgeries, or rounds, they might have to eat quickly, which would mean missing out on a healthy, well-balanced meal. This fast-paced eating pattern can exacerbate digestive problems, bad eating habits, and general obesity.

Moreover, the restricted leisure time allows resident physicians with few chances to decompress and rejuvenate in between stressful shifts. For resident physicians, it is a difficult undertaking to strike a balance between the demands of clinical obligations and continuing medical education. It necessitates meticulous time management, setting priorities, and a commitment to both patient care and personal growth. To stay current with developments in their area and to get a deeper understanding of medical ideas, resident physicians frequently make use of the specialized training sessions offered by their residency programs. To advance their knowledge and abilities, individuals participate in self-directed learning outside of these sessions, using resources including medical books, online courses, and medical apps. By incorporating education into their clinical practice, resident physicians can optimize the benefits of their educational endeavors by immediately applying newly gained knowledge to patient care.

How to Manage Stress?

Many initiatives have the potential to be used to support healthcare personnel and raise awareness of the issues they face. This entails supplying mental health support services, granting flexible work schedules, acknowledging their contributions, spreading awareness of mental health issues, encouraging wellness programs, pushing for legislative changes, and initiating public awareness campaigns. In the end, improved patient care results from these initiatives that enhance the well-being of healthcare professionals, alleviate burnout and foster a friendly work atmosphere.

Organizations Working Towards This

Numerous Indian organizations are committed to promoting resident physicians' welfare and resolving their problems. Among them are Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Indian Medical Association (IMA), Resident Doctors' Associations (RDAs) and Doctors for You (DFY).

In summary, the life of a resident physician in India is characterized by a never-ending array of difficulties, such as rigorous work hours, little time for meals and downtime, and the continual battle to strike a balance between clinical obligations and continued medical education. Notwithstanding these challenges, resident physicians exhibit incredible fortitude, devotion, and passion for their work. They constantly work to improve their knowledge and abilities while delivering the best possible care to their patients through self-directed learning, efficient time management, and the integration of education into clinical practice.


Why is there a need for doctors to work non stop for 36 hours straight?

Due to personnel constraints, the demanding nature of healthcare, and the requirement for continuous patient care, doctors may work longer shifts. These shifts guarantee that patients receive 24-hour medical care.

How do doctors cope with working such long hours?

Doctors use time management, prioritization, collaboration, and self-care techniques to get through their lengthy workdays. To help them stay alert and engaged throughout shifts, they could also depend on caffeine, quick breaks, and peer support.

Are 36-hour shifts safe for doctors and patients?

Doctor weariness is a worry while working long shifts since it might affect judgment and patient safety. Safety is the top priority even while precautions are taken to reduce dangers, such as setting a cap on the number of hours worked in a row and offering rest periods.

How do doctors manage their personal lives during 36-hour shifts?

It can be difficult for doctors to juggle their personal and professional obligations when working 36-hour shifts. To manage obligations outside of work and give self-care first priority when they have free time, they might rely on assistance from friends, family, and coworkers.

What are the effects of long shifts on doctors' mental and physical health?

Doctors who work long shifts may experience negative impacts on their physical and emotional well-being, such as exhaustion, stress, burnout, disturbed sleep, and a higher chance of medical errors. It is critical that medical professionals put self-care first and ask for help when they need it.

Are there alternatives to 36-hour shifts for doctors?

In an effort to improve work-life balance, lower fatigue-related errors, and increase patient safety, shorter shifts (8–12 hours), shift rotations, and duty hour limitations are alternatives to 36-hour shifts for doctors. These solutions improve physician well-being and uphold high standards of patient care by encouraging better scheduling procedures, opportunities for rest, and workload distribution.