The Call Schedule Revealed

One thing that I truly loathe is trying to explain Mr. Dr’s call schedule to people.  No one seems to be able to understand it.  But I think I figured out why.  I don’t even understand it the majority of the time.  It is so confusing.  It may be just as confusing as determining the perfect blended mixture of rum, mint, lime and soda for a good mojito.  Mmmm.  Mojitos.  Such a refreshing summertime drink right?  Sorry, I digress.  Back to the call schedule.  The NYU ortho R2s change rotations every two months which means their call schedule changes every two months.  But every hospital is different.  Each program has its own rotation schedule within each specialty for their residents.  For example, a neurological surgery resident has a completely different rotation and call schedule than an orthopedic surgery resident.  But no matter what the specialty, every resident has to pay their call dues.

The most basic concept to help better understand the call schedule begins with the patients.  Hospitals never sleep…not dissimilar to this grand city.  They are filled with patients 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Again, same goes for NYC except they are called tourists.  Normal hospital business hours are during the day, just like any other job, except if all employees left at 5pm, then who would be keeping an eye on those poor little patients after hours on nights and weekends?  The answer is no one.  Then came residents.  The term ‘resident’ originated because back when they developed the concept of residency, all residents used to live in the hospital.  Thankfully, this no longer exists.  However, I use the word ‘live’ loosely, because sometimes I do feel like our apartment only provides a bed for Mr. Dr. to pass out on for a few hours before he is back at work.  The purpose of a call schedule is for patients to receive care after hours, so residents take turns with different call shifts each week to ensure there is adequate coverage on their service at all times.  The schedule is typically created by an upperclassman resident or occasionally, the residents themselves that are on that specific service.  A resident can be on call every 3rd day, every 7th day or even less, it just depends on the amount of coverage needed and the number of residents splitting time.  There is short call, long call, 12 hour call and 24 hour call.  Do you want to be the patient being seen by the doctor on his/her 23rd hour?  I think not.  There are also different types such as home call.  This means you don’t have to be in the hospital but available should they need you to come in.  Residents think this is nice because at least they can be in the comfort of their own home during their call shift, but my opinion is that it’s nothing short of house arrest.  Furthermore, if you think about all of the drunk people that indulge in silly behavior that leads to injury after hours, you better believe there is usually a reason for a resident to get called in.  Personally, that is why I prefer to hang with those that can hold their liquor.  I have never needed hospitalization from too much alcohol consumption but if I did thank goodness we have Mr. Dr.

Our calendar/bible

This is our monthly calendar, aka: my bible when it comes to Mr. Dr.’s schedule.  It’s a staple decoration in our kitchen and I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  The satisfaction he gets in crossing off the days is actually really endearing.  It’s what keeps us going.  This calendar is the only way I know when he is off, when he is working late, what hospital he is taking call at for the month (the ortho residents rotate between four hospitals in the city) and any other random information he needs to keep me informed about for the month (like that ludicrous training course in Missouri).  Consequently, it is also my bible for scheduling my own Mrs. Dr. activities.  For example, if I know he is going to be working late call every Tuesday for the month I will try to schedule outings for Tuesday night.  It doesn’t always work out like that but I try to do my best in balancing his schedule with mine because usually mine can be a lot more flexible.  As you can see he has mastered the doctor handwriting pretty well.  Luckily I can make out what it says and understand it.  You might also notice that he has a WEEK OFF for vacation next week.  I know he is looking forward to that.  God knows he/we need it.

Unfortunately, the call schedule is what makes being a resident so crazy and their wives even crazier, but fortunately for a patient, it can be what keeps them alive.  So I guess we can chalk it up to a win because one becomes a doctor to help people and that is what the call schedule allows them to do at any given hour in a day.  Nonetheless, it is still confusing because the schedule is constantly changing.  I’d much rather be confused about how much liquor to pour into my cocktail.  Is it 6pm yet?  I am ready for that mojito.

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