UMEM Educational Pearls

As we eat our turkey today and the myth that we are tired because of the tryptophan content is propagated further - nothing to do with the 2000kcals that we just ate - I would like to share an interesting and controversial study. 

Use of stimulants and and sedatives by EM residents. Incidence is as follows:

In a study of 485 residents with 47% response rate:

Prescription Stimulants: 3.1%

Sleep Aids (all):  89%

Use of Nonbenzodiazepines (zolpidem): 14%

Use of Melatonin: 10%

Benzodiazepines: 9%

Difficult job with difficult hours. What is the appropriate medication or is there a medication that truly assists with performance? Are they doing harm to themselves? to patients?

Disrupted circadian rhythm, addiction tendencies and the hardship of a stressful nightshifts are the price we pay for this specialty. Awareness and education are needed for the residents as well as the attendings.


Shy BD, Portelli I, Nelson LS. Emergency Medicien residents use of psychostimulants and sedative to aid in shift work and circadian transitions. Am J Emerg Med 2010.