Saturday, January 23, 2010

Workin' on the Weekend

Ah, weekend call. When I was in residency, the nurses would refer to it as the "3-day hostage crisis." I find this hilarious. And, in many aspects, true. In my former job, weekend call just seemed like a continuation of a long parade of call days that flowed seamlessly, one into another. I resented being held from my life on the weekends just as much as I resented the weekdays. Now, weekend call is a distinct, and separate being.

Weekend call for me consists of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting at 7 am on Friday morning and ending at 7 am on Monday morning. Definitely a long, lonely stretch. Blissfully, the Monday after weekend call is mine, all mine. So there is always a break on the horizon, which, sometimes, is the only thing that keeps me going! Hospitals have a different overall feeling on the weekends. The pace is slower (usually) and generally, not a lot gets done. This even extends to Labor and Delivery. While it is true, babies have no concept of weekends or evenings and tend to come whenever they damn well please, but there are no elective inductions, no scheduled C-sections, and most patients are eager to leave the hospital.

The best thing about weekend call, for me, is the ability to spend as much time as I need to on Labor and Delivery, without feeling rushed. Weekdays usually will have scheduled C-sections at 7 am or 12 noon (sometimes both) and inductions can range from 1 to 3 for our group, there are circumcisions to be done, patients to be rounded on, not to mention a full slate of office patients for the day. Getting it all done can feel impossible, even when there are other partners there to divide the work. Splitting work can also be stressful, wondering if all the patients were seen, or if someone got missed in the shuffle. On the weekends, there is something peaceful (or is it merely resignation?) about knowing that, come what may, *you* are the one responsible. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I would prefer being a "laborist," because I really love the ability to stay on L & D, close to the action.

Some mornings there are just a few patients to see, and I can sleep a little later, and spend a lot of time with each person. Other mornings, there are many patients to see, but the pace doesn't necessarily have to change. Following the cardinal rules of deference to the call gods, I never make a single plan for my call weekends. If it happens to be slow, we spend some lazy time as a family together at the house. If it is busy, then I can take up residence in one of the (really, way too nice) call rooms where I can read, flip channels, and watch laboring patients simultaneously, or I can hang out at the nurses' station, chatting and getting to know my co-workers (and usually get access to some really great food, the staff definitely eats well on the weekends!)

So, while I still get a little wistful when I hear of others' fun weekend plans on the weekend that I have to work, I am bolstered by the knowledge that my "day off" lies just on the other side of the weekend. I am further heartened to know that weekend call is only once a month, leaving 3 other weekends wide open for fun plans of my very own, without fear of the dreaded page from L&D. WTF is wrong with me? I never thought I'd see the day when I appreciated weekend call; I must be getting mellow in my old age! Working or not, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Captain and Crew said...

I can completely identify! WTF? It is warped and twisted! I am in ObGyn in Central California. Thanks for the blog. I love it!

Tori O. said...

There is a definite change in the tone of your posts since you took this new job. I'm glad this is working out so well for you.

Anonymous said...

Working, too, but in FP. Notice a lot of the same things about the hospital and rounds in general, but you articulate it much better than I could. Have done every other weekend, every 3rd weekend and every 4th weekend in my time and find that every 4th weekend is an order of magnitude better than every 3rd (not sure why there is such a difference). Every other, don't go there. Hope you have a good one and as always, enjoy your blog.

LauraT said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying your new job. It's great to look forward to your "on-call" weekends! Is this kind of what you had in mind when you chose obstetrics and gynecology way back in the days of med school/residency?

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