One of the most frustrating but necessary duties of being a doctor is the need to take calls. Patients get sick 24/7 so medical personnel are needed no matter what the calendar says. Unless you're one of the lucky few physicians who don't have to take calls, either due to your age, length of work experience, or practice location, nearly all doctors have to take some type of call. Yes even pathologists and dermatologists take calls.
I used to dream about what it would be like to work in a vocation that doesn't require working overnight shifts, weekend work, or holiday work. I'm thinking something along the lines of government jobs or manufacturing. Yes a factory line can close down for a holiday break, but not a hospital's emergency room. And just try finding a government employee to help you on a Friday afternoon after 4:30 PM.
I once complained to a colleague about taking calls while others in our group don't have to take any, a sore point that has created a generational divide within our department. She said to quit whining and just suck it up. The others have paid their dues in the past and now get to reap the fruits of all the labor they invested in the group. Besides, she reminded, it is a privilege to take care of patients, not a burden. If it becomes too much of a burden to make time to care for them, then it's time to move to another field.
So here I am, at the hospital for another holiday call. Luckily it has not been terribly busy so far today. So what does an anesthesiologist do while sitting around in the call room waiting for the inevitable page to get another case going? Here are some things I've been doing to pass the time.
1. Watching Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel.
2. Reading about how a Hurst Lightning Rods Triple Shifter works.
3. Contemplating the intricacies of time.
4. Envying the luxurious lifestyles of current college students.
5. Admiring pictures of my family as they are out having fun without me courtesy of my wife's cellphone camera. Gee thanks guys. I hope you bring back a doggy bag from that yummy looking restaurant.
So as you can see, the life of a physician is not all glamor and fortune. There is a lot of personal sacrifice too. Just another idea to contemplate for anyone thinking about going into medical school. Suddenly, working in a cubicle doesn't sound so bad.