Objectives Surgical specialties rely on practice and apprenticeship to acquire technical skills. In 2009, the final reduction in working hours to 48 per week, in accordance with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), has also led to an expansion in the number of trainees. We examined the effect of these changes on operative training in a single high-volume [>1500 procedures/year] adult cardiac surgical center. Methods Setting: A single high-volume [>1500 procedures/year] adult cardiac surgical center. Design: Consecutive data were prospectively collected into a database and retrospectively analyzed. Procedures and Main Outcome Measures: Between January 2006 and August 2010, 6688 consecutive adult cardiac surgical procedures were analyzed. The proportion of cases offered for surgical training were compared for 2 non-overlapping consecutive time periods: 4504 procedures were performed before the final implementation of the EWTD (Phase 1: January 2006-December 2008) and 2184 procedures after the final implementation of the EWTD (Phase 2: January 2009-August 2010). Other predictors of training considered in the analysis were grade of trainee, logistic European system for cardiac operative risk evaluation (EuroSCORE), type of surgical procedure, weekend or late procedure, and consultant. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of training cases (procedure performed by trainee) and to evaluate the effect of the EWTD on operative surgical training after correcting for confounding factors. Results Proportion of training cases rose from 34.6% (1558/4504) during Phase 1 to 43.6% (953/2184) in Phase 2 (p < 0.0001), despite higher mean logistic EuroSCORE [4.29 (6.8) during Phase 1 vs 4.95 (7.2) during Phase 2, p < 0.0001] and higher proportion of cases performed out of hours [153 (3.4) during Phase 1 vs 116 (5.3) during Phase 2, p < 0.0001]. During Phase 1, senior trainees (last 2 years of training) performed 803 (17.8%) procedures, whereas other trainees (first 4 years of training) performed 755(16.8%) cases. During Phase 2, senior trainees performed 763 (34.9%) procedures, whereas other trainees performed 190 (8.7%) cases (p < 0.0001). Independent positive predictors of training cases emerging from the multivariable logistic regression model included consultant in charge, final EWTD, and senior trainees. Independent negative predictors of training cases included logistic EuroSCORE, out-of-hours' procedures, and surgery other than coronary artery bypass grafts. Conclusion Implementation of the final phase of EWTD has not decreased training in a high-volume center. The positive adjustment of trainers' attitudes and efforts to match trainees' needs allow maintenance of adequate training, despite reduction in working hours and increasing patients' risk profile.
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