August 3, 2021

Medical interns go on strike to demand better working conditions

Extended weeks, to which may be added psychological, physical, sexual violence… medical interns are called to strike on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 June. They have only one demand: to work “only” … forty-eight hours a week.

“Already in 2019 interns in France worked an average of 58.4 hours per week. And it has not improved ”, especially with the Covid-19 crisis, warns Gaétan Casanova, president of the National Intersyndicale des Interns (ISNI), according to whom they are “In a bad state”. “We put ourselves in physical and psychological danger”, hammers the intern in anesthesia resuscitation, supporting investigations.

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“Dangerous for the patient”

A World Health Organization (WHO) study in May concluded that working fifty-five or more hours per week was associated with an estimated 35% increase in stroke risk and a 17% increase in stroke risk. die of ischemic heart disease.

Another, carried out in 2017 at the initiative of ISNI, indicated that 23.7% of residents had already had suicidal thoughts, 28% had suffered from depressive disorders and 66% from anxiety disorders. “And it is also dangerous for the patient”, adds Gaétan Casanova. “When, at the end of the call, it is difficult to make a subject / verb / complement sentence, I would like someone to explain to me how we can take care of a patient in an optimal way. “

The internship, the third cycle of medical studies, begins seven years after the baccalaureate and lasts from three to six years depending on the specialties. France has a little over 30,000 interns working in its hospitals.

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After two meetings at the Ministry of Health, unsuccessful according to the inter-union, even if Olivier Véran is committed to “Improve their working conditions”, this call to strike for Friday and Saturday was launched. It could be followed, even if measures of subpoena or requisition are not excluded. In addition, a demonstration is planned in Paris on Saturday afternoon to demand “The hourly account of working time”, the first step towards 48-hour work weeks in accordance with European law.

Psychological violence

“The regulations exist, they are known, but they are not systematically applied in the hospital, and what is more among the interns”, explains François Jaulin, who has just finished his internship in anesthesia-resuscitation and asks for an in-depth reflection on the training of future generations. “There is a whole panoply of possibilities, completely unknown in medicine, because of the interpersonal skills”.

In addition to the extended weeks “Fear of making mistakes”, he notes. And “It is not the only form of violence” to which young interns may be subjected, note Amélie Jouault and Sara Eudeline, general practitioners, citing psychological, physical and even sexual violence. For their doctoral theses, defended last October, the two young doctors investigated the violence suffered by students in general medicine. The result is clear: 93.6% of interns who answered the questionnaire (or 2,179 interns, 20% of the workforce) “Declared having suffered occasional or repeated psychological violence during their studies”; 53.5%, violence of a sexual and gender-based nature; 49.6%, physical violence.

The facts and comments collected are overwhelming: “Do you see the window? You open it and you jump ” after a wrong answer; “You are going to hold the retractors, you are in the habit of spreading them apart” ; throwing of bloodstained compresses or pliers… These are generally acts of “Mostly committed by hierarchical superiors”, which students do not report.

However, a little more than four in ten victims consider that this has consequences on their physical and mental health, and 36.1% on their professionalism. “Violence decreases the capacities of memorization, concentration, blocks the reflection”, emphasizes Amélie Jouault. “This situation therefore also has repercussions on the care of patients”, argues his colleague.

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The World with AFP