Long Hours are Bad Medicine

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Bright green background with white uppercase letters in the center. A white logo sits above the main text, with a white union bug and smaller organization acronym is below.

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A long-standing battle, between New York City hospitals and the residents and interns employed in the healthcare system, led to the formation of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) in 1958. The CIR’s primary goals focused on obtaining reasonable working conditions and fair wages for its members. The CIR’s initial successes led to similar organizations springing up nationwide.

Over the years these local organizations met with mixed results and a call to organize arose. Thus, in 1984, the National Federation of Housestaff Officers (NFHO) was formed by representatives from housestaff organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Buffalo, New York, and New Jersey. 

In 1988, CIR and NFHO campaigned to reduce the long, intense hours of interns and residents in New York State Hospitals. Citing studies that show lack of sleep among doctors has become more dangerous to patients, they were able to get legislation passed to limit schedules to 24-hour shifts and 80-hour weeks.


Archives of CIR. (2008). Organization affiliates and former affiliates: NFHO. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/historyofcir/organization-affiliates-and-…

Daley, S. (June 10, 1988). Hospital interns long hours to be reduced in New York. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/10/nyregion/hospital-interns-long-hours…

Harmon, R.G. (1978). Intern and resident organizations in the United States: 1934-1977. Health and Society, 56(4). Retrieved from https://www.milbank.org/wp-content/uploads/mq/volume-56/issue-04/56-4-I…

Catalog ID CL0642