For the past six months my husband was doing an internal complex spine fellowship in a neighboring city. The best part of that experience was NO CALL! That's right, for six months he was not carrying a pager. It was heaven. The worst part was that because there was a commute involved he was still gone all the time, and it happened at the same time as gas prices spiked - for the household finance manager, not a good six months.
But back to my reason for bringing this up. While being a chief resident is spectacular (I just checked out his call schedule, which he made, and he is only officially on call for 6 days this month - that has never happened) I can tell it is also going to be rough. The flip-side of this light scheduled call is that as chief he is really on call every day. At least one attending doesn't want a junior resident calling until they have cleared everything with the chief. So, being chief is also much like being a baby-sitter.
Yesterday the husband and I ran an errand. Not a long one. We left the house with our new baby to spend some alone time at Sam's club (our version of a hot afternoon date). As we are getting ready to check out he gets the call. Remember, he isn't on call (but he is). So after loading up the car we swing by the ER so he can evaluate the patient with the resident who is uncertain. He always says it will take 10 minutes, but it is nearly always two or three times longer. The patient is admitted and scheduled for surgery. Between the calls and texts with the resident and attending, a good portion of "our time" was taken up with "doctor time". I could have been upset or put out, but it rarely makes anything better. Honestly, those emotions weren't even a temptation. It is what it is, and maybe that's a sign that I've gotten used to it.
This scenario has been played hundreds of time during our residency. I should also add that the residents here are able to take call from home - that piece of information is important. Without fail, any time we planned to do something together, as a family, with friends, regardless of how big or how small - it seemed that the patient population of this town knew he was on call and immediately needed to go to the ER. Or at least that is how it seemed.
I had completely forgotten and now it is all coming back to me. But that's OK. We somehow managed before and we will again. I wouldn't change a thing - we are almost done! Only 360 days left as a resident, but who is counting?