* * Anonymous Doc

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yesterday was my attending's last day on the service-- we have another week and a half to go, but the attendings switch every two weeks. As we were finishing up rounds, he asked if we all wanted to grab a beer, since it's his last day. Immediately, just about everyone gave an excuse-- dinner plans, had to see her husband, needed to get home, friend's birthday party. I said I'd go-- nothing else to do on a Friday night, and have already learned not to make plans with friends on a day I'm working because there's been a pretty good chance that even if I think I'm getting out at 6:30, I'm usually there until at least 8, if not later. I was in fact the only one who said I'd go. And the attending looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "I guess everyone's busy. Another time then." Which makes me officially the loneliest person in the world, if the attending who suggested grabbing a drink, when faced with grabbing a drink just with me, says no thanks, forget about it.

Hey, I understand why most people are going to be busy (or say they're busy even if they aren't). I don't know how people can keep up relationships on this schedule unless they use absolutely every moment of their free time to be with their partner-- or don't sleep. If I didn't sleep, I could probably have a life. You don't realize how bad getting out of work at 8:00 is until you remember you have to be back there at 6:30 the next morning. It's 15 minutes door to door for me, which is about as close as I can reasonably expect to be without living right next door to the hospital, given where we are. So if I get home at 8:15, and have to leave the next morning at 6:15... that means I'm waking up at 5:30... that means I want to go to bed by 10 so I have at least 7 hours and change... that means I have a little less than two hours at night to make dinner, eat dinner, catch up on any e-mail, watch a little TV, check my fantasy baseball team, and maybe call a friend, or maybe just decompress from the day. That hour and 45 minutes doesn't feel like much, especially when I haven't had any time to myself all day, any time to even see what the stock market did, or whether anyone famous died.

And the nights I'm on late call, it's of course even worse. I get home around 10. Which means I shovel food into my mouth and collapse in the bed and don't have any time at all.

So I have my one weekend day. Where the last thing I really want to do is get in the car and go somewhere, or do anything that takes any energy at all.

What kind of life is that? I may as well be a patient in the hospital instead of the doctor. At least they make you dinner (not that it's edible). At least you can watch TV during the day, or make a phone call, or go to the bathroom on your own schedule. At least you have visitors (sometimes).

I thought I was counting down the 4 years of medical school until finally residency-- a "job"-- a "life"-- but now I'm counting down the 3 years of residency until... until what? Until a job that's probably going to end up looking a lot like residency, and a life that looks like... what exactly?

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear things are so hard at every turn. The medical system is broken in so many ways and at so many points it's hard to call it a system at all anymore.

    Where I'm at things seem better for the interns, from my perspective. We have hospitalists and our attendings are great teachers, great doctors, good with patients, etc. The nurse-resident at my hospital could use a little work though. Thanks for setting an example of being nice to us, interns can learn from nurses too if they'll listen. Although I know plenty of nurses who won't given interns the time of day, which isn't good either.

    We're all in this together. Hope it gets better for you. Thanks for writing your perspective.