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Lives of Doctor Wives: Call?

Monday, August 17, 2009


My husband (MSIII) just started taking call over night this month. I began to wonder about the different rules for what "call" actually is in different types of facilities. Is there less call as a resident or attending in a university hospital vs community hospital? What residency year in orthopedics is the worst for call? Does it just depend on which program you are in? Thanks for the input ladies!!
P.S. Any tips on something special to do with the kids on the nights daddy isn't home for bed time?


Blogger Stephanie said...

I think it does depend on the program...and even then, with a program like ortho (my husband is pgy2 ortho) which is 5 years long, things like the amount of call each "year" takes can change. For us, being a 2 is supposed to be the most call but now it is more spread out amongst all the residents than it was three years ago. (it is still a lot of call) so...things change within programs, programs are different... i guess that is the name of the game, right?

for us, when daddy is on call, we bring him starbucks before i put our toddler down to bed. Sometimes it takes a while for him to come out to the car if they are busy, but i know he looks forward to it... and really, it is about me being flexible. b/c sometimes our son is LATE for bed on those nights. and as i start to get irritated, i see how happy my husband is to say night night to our son and i know that it is a very small thing that i can do to make his night a little more tolerable.

August 18, 2009 at 2:40 AM  
Blogger Married to a med student - Marissa Nicole said...

My husband is only a medical student so don't quote me on this it is just what I have seen (in medical school based hospitals)...

Call will vary with the program, some places you will have call every 3 days (Q3) and others it may be every 4 or 5 days. From what I have heard you are on call less and less throughout your residency (with the exception of your last year when you are a chief.) For example your first year you may have Q3 9 months of the year and Q4 for the other thre months. And then your second year it may only be 6 months of Q3.
I believe with most surgical residencies the call is AT the hospital but attendings are on call from home.
I think most programs allow the resident to go home by noon the day after call.
Hope third year is going well for you and your family!

August 18, 2009 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Made in Taiwan said...

I think it is greatly dependent on how many residents there are in the program, the service they are on (you take call for all things ortho but the next morning you return to the duties of the current service you are on), and how busy of a program they are. Sometimes you get off at noon post call, sometimes you don't get home until 9pm post call. Call is actually better in residency than it was on my DH's ortho rotations are a med student. He was q2/q3 for the ENTIRE 4 weeks of each of his 3 ortho rotations. But there are no rules for medical students and "audition" rotations are the time to kick butt. My DH lost 15 lbs at his UT away.
Places like USC who take 10 residents per year but they are so trauma heavy and busy that their call isn't any lighter than places that only take 2-4 a year. I wouldn't place too much importance on call when ranking a program. I think that the general happiness of the residents is way more important.

In terms of call nights and the kids. I have 3 of them, one of which is in school. Late night visits don't work when you have a child in school. We also don't live near the hospital because most academic hospitals are in the ghetto. So it can be a pain to drive out there only for 5 minutes of face time. On occasion we take him dinner. Our kids our older and we had them during medical school, so we're pretty honest with our kids and they have come to understand and accept that sometimes we just don't see dad. Sometimes for days. We live our lives and he fits in when he can. No feeling sorry for yourself and wishing things were a way they can not be. We have always taught the kids to accept the things that can not be changed, move on and make the best of it. Call nights are call nights and a part of medicine.

And in terms of attendinghood call. DH spoke to an attending in a practice that he's interested in where the orthopods take NO call. I would imagine that in the places that do take call it would be dependent on how many attendings there are, what kind of orthopods they are, and how often ortho takes hand and spine call (it is often shared with plastics and neuro). If you're the only ortho hand surgeon you might have more call than the general orthopods who have more people to split the days of "normal" call.

August 18, 2009 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Call is definitely different wherever you are.

My husband was an intern last year in Texas and call there meant spending the whole night in the hospital and then he get home around 1 the next day or so and he slept all afternoon. He had it there probably an average of 4 times a month (sometimes more, sometimes less.)

Call now as a 2nd year pm&r res means a whole week of at home call. They will call him at home (and they usually call a lot) and sometimes if it's really bad he has to go back to the hospital. He has call every couple of months (again, sometimes more, sometimess less.)

I'd much, much, much, prefer this year over last year!

As for things to do with your kiddos, I'm not sure. My baby was very little last year so it didn't really affect us. I'd just say try and keep as busy as possible. Maybe even now and then take them to McDonald's or do something fun like that. Are you able to take them to go eat at the hospital and maybe see daddy for a few mins?

August 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Beth Hollenbeck said...

Hi! My name is Beth. My husband is a 2nd year ortho res and I do believe it depends on the program. His worst year of call is this one (2nd yr). He is on call every 4th night - and sometimes more often. He is at a community hospital that is VERY VERY busy. It is a large trauma center for the particular area we live in and serves a large region. He rarely gets any sleep in the "call rooms" and if he does it is no more than 2 hrs. With that being said, there is absolutely no way for my children (I have 2 boys) and I to go "visit" him or bring him anything. It's just not possible, and I'm sure that depends again on the program.

When my husband is on call we make a quick video on my cell phone when the boys go to bed to say goodnight to Daddy, then send it to him. I tell them he is at work and will be home tomorrow. He doesn't get home until 12noon or later, so I can't say he'll be home when you wake up. That is our routine and it seems to work well. My husband is also VERY involved with our kids and usually spends the evening alone with them after he wakes up from being post-call and will do their dinner, bath and bedtime. He kicks me out for a break :)

In our ortho program every year changes with call schedule and demands. Honestly, I don't find it terrible. You just adjust and find creative ways to make it work. We have a very social, family-friendly program so we are blessed. Best of luck as you finish up the last 2 years of med school!
~Beth Hollenbeck

August 18, 2009 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

At our old program, Brad was on call more frequently, but he got to come home at noon the next day. Here, he has a normal day the next day. But truthfully, he doesn't have to go in all that much, so I don't mind. :o)

August 18, 2009 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger MissMaryGarcia said...

My boyfriend is PGY3 in internal medicine and primary care, and in his program interns take call the most, but it depends. I wasn't around that year, but I hear it was a good amount of Q3 and Q4, where the intern works a full day and is technically done at noon the next day, but often stays into the afternoon. I think it depends on the program, but for IM, PGY2 was less call, all Q4 or Q5 for just a few rotations, and PGY3 doesn't really have any call except for 2-4 weeks of Q4 night teach (overseeing interns on call). Of course the primary care program blesses residents with loads of clinic (ACR) time, which helps. At another hospital in this program, there isn't any overnight call, just "long call" (admit until 7pm, stay as late as 9ish). Then they have people work a week of 12 hour night shifts instead.

August 19, 2009 at 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call for us as PGY-4 Anesthesia is 7pm - 7am or 5pm-7am, depending on weekday or weekend. They still get post call day off. They used to have longer call days, but recently switched to this call. I like it much better. He usually has 2 call nights a week...and sometimes he will have 4 days in a row (like night float).

August 20, 2009 at 1:00 AM  

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