Source: Call Nights on Surgery Rotation
I’m on call for surgery, and the other med student and I have taken over the call room.
There are only two of us, but you’d think we were a crowd of eight. We have somehow managed to spread our things over all four beds, filled the room with empty coffee cups and chocolate wrappers, and leave our shoes scattered all over the floor. If anyone else happens to need the call room tonight, we will simply have to tell them that they are out of luck, because it is full of our crap. It’s taken on the tone of a slightly resigned and forced slumber party.
We have the good luck of having our weekend call night together, which makes it slightly more tolerable. The chief resident assured us, when we signed on at 6pm, that she would only call us for something interesting or if a case went to the OR.
We are both fervently hoping that nothing interesting comes up. And certainly that nothing goes to the OR. Because let’s face it, all I want to do on my call night is attempt to sleep.
Our hopes were dashed slightly when the R1 – first year resident – paged us about seventeen minutes into our night to help pull a drain. In our opinion, this was not really something worth paging the med students for. Sure, it’s a learning experience. But it was also four flights and a ten minute walk away (our call room is on the far end of the hospital). We debated the merits of telling the R1 that we have no interest in being called for things like pulling drains if they are to come up, say, after ten pm. But we decided that that strategy could quickly backfire, because that resident could easily make our night a living hell and call us for every small thing.
We did get one call for a potential OR case. Turned out to not be an acute abdomen after all, but we did get to wander down to the emergency department for a while. We hung around with the resident (this time the senior) who had paged us for about ten minutes before we asked that magical phrase that all medical students know: “Is there anything else we can do to help?” This is code for “Can we please leave?”
Anyone who has ever been a medical student knows this.
“Nope,” the resident said. “I think we’re good.” But she didn’t say the magic words: “You guys should go to bed.”
We hung out for another two minutes or so, before we caved. “Well,” we said, “Call us if anything else comes up.”
We basically walked away. But we were very polite about it, and in all honesty, we were just standing there, not being helpful. Much better to be in the call room where we can watch TV and drink our sugary coffee drinks. (That’s another thing about being on call: the rules of normal healthy living don’t apply. You can eat and drink whatever you want, because you are willing to do anything to make the situation even slightly more tolerable.)
Part of the problem with being on call is that you simply can’t relax. You can try to sleep, but it’s tainted with the knowledge that you might have to wake up at any time, and be instantly alert. For all you know, you could be in the OR within twenty minutes in a highly intense trauma case. That makes it a little difficult to just doze off to sleep.
So that’s why my friend and I have taken over the call room, and are fervently hoping that it’s a quiet night. Reckless motorcyclists , ATV drivers, and drunk drivers take note: please stay home tonight. Because we just want to stay in our call room.