Delaware Today magazine Top Doctors 2011, The Surgeons: Surgical residency requirements changing, Dr. Helen McCullough
Dr. Helen McCullough, a gynecological surgeon in Newark, attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been in practice 14 years.
Photo by Jared Castaldi
Dr. Helen McCullough points out that surgical residency requirements are changing in some specialties. Chief among the changes is a restriction on work hours. As airplane pilots are prohibited from flying more than an allotted number of hours a week to prevent accidents, surgical residents in some specialties are also being limited for similar reasons. That means no resident will be forced to operate for 36 straight hours—not an uncommon practice. The result of the changes remains to be seen. On one hand, patient safety may improve. On the other, it will take residents longer to gain the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience they would under more intense circumstances. “In surgery, you are only as good as what you do, so what if you haven’t done enough to be great?” McCullough says. “You’ve got to get perfect, but you have less time to get perfect. You have to get your hands on the equipment, and on the people.”