One of the requirements for our surgery rotation is that we serve two nights on-call. Basically, we choose days where we’re at the hospital for a full 24 hours (though it usually ends up being a bit more than that). I recently completed one of my on-call days and I have to say it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it was going to be. As one of the surgeons told me, “being on-call builds character young man.” One thing you immediately notice is how empty the hospital seems at 1 am. Even though I’m in Philadelphia, there is a significant decrease in people in the middle of the night. It’s actually kind of…peaceful!
For me, my time on-call blew by. I had been rounding and attending surgeries all day and so I didn’t even start on call until 9 pm. Though I don’t have nearly as many responsibilities as the residents, I was contacted for help several times throughout the night. And so it went. I would doze for maybe an hour or two, wake up, and complete a task that the resident wanted me to do. Before I knew it, it was 5:30 am, time for that day’s pre-rounding!
Fortunately, you get the day off after you’re on-call. You emerge from the on-call room in a stupor as you realize that you’ve literally spent a full day at the hospital. I think that since I’ve been enjoying surgery, spending the full day at the hospital didn’t bother me as much! Though I have to admit, doing this frequently would definitely take its toll eventually.