I am sitting here on call today and had a little "down time". What is call, you may ask? Here is a somewhat detailed version of what being "on call" means. This comes from the Placebo Journal
, a humorous look at medicine. To all my medical colleagues, I hope you get a good laugh out of this. To anyone else, don't' be offended. It is all for fun.Things to Know About Calling the "On-Call" DoctorWhat is "call"?
Call is when your doctor stays up and answers questions from patients just like you. Though your questions may be important, most patients call their doctors for moronic reasons. Call usually lasts after work until the next morning. Your doctor loathes the idea of being on-call. He not only has to cover questions from his own patients, but also the other doctor's patients in his call group. In other words, he may field many more ridiculous questions than any human should ever have to.Is "call" fun?
Are you an idiot? Pretend you are sticking needles in your eyes. That is how "Call" feels to your doctor.What does my doctor do "on-call".
He drinks heavily and plays xBox.
Actually, that's a joke. Your doctor tries to spend time with his family. Unfortunately he is taken away from them many times to answer questions about someone's rash on their bottom or toe that is sprained. This eventually leads to divorce, but don't let that stop you from calling.Does my doctor meet me in the hospital when he tells me to go to the emergency room?
Yes, your doctor will meet you in front of the emergency room door and hold your hand as you sign-in. This is, of course, if he doesn't decide to pick you up in his own car. On a serious note, he is passing the buck on to the emergency room physician. He will forget about sending you there in the first place after initially praying that the ER doctor sees fit to give you a narcotic or antibiotic and send you on your way.What happens if I am sick enough to be admitted to the hospital?
Your doctor will hope and pray that someone else will take your case. Maybe a specialist, like a cardiologist or pulmonologist, will find your case right up their ally and will come in to see you. If not, your doctor will spend at least five minutes trying to convince the ER doctor why your case is not that serious and that myocardial infarctions really can be worked up as an outpatient.When should I call the "on-call" doctor?
This is an easy question to answer. Here are some examples:
-Loss of LimbWhy are doctors so late in calling me back?
Most doctors are hoping that you will forget about why you called, or that you even called in the first place, for that matter. Sometimes time will heal a lot of things. Maybe you will be so frustrated that you will go right to the ER on you own? Or perhaps you will realize that your doctor has more to do than treat your sniffles at 3:00 AM? Either way, things should work out. They always do.When should I never call the "on-call" doctor?
-Sleeping pill refill
-Heck, any medication refill
-Actually any pain but chest painWhy does my doctor seem like he is in a bad mood when he answer the call?
Because he is. The reason is because he doesn't want to speak to you. Not that he is uncaring or rude. It is just that he spent all day seeing third people sucking all the life force out of him and now here you are trying to squeeze blood from a stone. He doesn't mean to be angry and he doesn't even know you enough to dislike you. Unfortunately, he is now angry and hates your guts. Don't take this personally. Just don't wait until 5:07 PM to call your doctor about lab results. Thanks Schmuck.Tips for calling your on-call physician:
2. If you can't follow #1, then make sure it is a true emergency. Hey, those new internet sites may give you an idea. They seem really good. Listen to them unless they tell you to call your doctor, then realize they are probably full of it
The above statement does not entirely reflect my feelings, only partly, and more on some nights than on others. It is meant for humor, so please don't take it personally and try to laugh. It is now 0200 and I am on call and sitting down for the first time today without seeing a patient. I find that being on call can be a joy with the right focus. If I focus on "things above", then I see being on call as an opportunity to serve. If I don't look at things that way, it can get under my skin.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."Mark 10:45