Med School Hell – Call Blows

This post is raw and holds nothing back. If you’re uncomfortable with vulgar language, please turn back.

January 22, 2006
By: Hoover


As a medical student, you’ll have to take call during your third and fourth year. Not only do you have the typical 10-14 hour work days (depending on rotation), but you also have to study for the “shelf” exam. On top of all that, those assholes responsible for the rotation make you take call. Shoot me now.

Basically, call is crap. I guess if you’re a resident, call is expected since you’re actually doing work and getting paid. Call for medical students, however, is a big waste of time. Nothing says “fuck you” like running scut at 2am after working all day. Ahh, the bliss.

The last time I was on call, I had to come into the hospital at 5:00 am to do my normal ward work and round with the team. As soon as this got done, that damn pager starting beeping. I was busy from around 11:00 am until about 2:00 am, and then I had to get up the next morning at 4:30 am to go see my patients. For those of you not in medical school yet – or haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing call – this scenario is not uncommon.

If you do get lucky enough to go back to the call room, your sleep will be light to nonexistent for most of you. After all, you can’t miss a page and you better sleep lightly so that you don’t continue to snooze. The ‘beep, beep, beep’ at some Godforsaken hour sends chills down my spine. I honestly do hate it. I have been known to make up stories such as “the battery died” or “I didn’t get the page.” I even tried to cut the damn thing off one time but they had that function disabled as it was an in-house pager.

It’s a blast to watch the residents though. Get in a large group of residents at a conference and watch as they all frantically search for their pager underneath their white coats when one goes off. It’s funny as hell. Those guys probably hate them as much as I do, but they’ve gotta answer pages. I don’t have to answer shit, I’m just a medical student. If you make it a habit of not answering pages though, take it from my experience that something will be said about it. I’ve even had comments written in my evaluation about me not showing up to every single page. I’m not doing a residency anyway so who the fuck cares? It sure isn’t me.

If you do get paged down for a call, get the hell out as soon as possible. The crafty resident will attempt to keep you hanging out with them so as to subvert any possibility of you not showing up later. Make up some excuse that gets you the out of there. Also, keep in mind that some of the time the residents you’re working with will be part of a night-float team. They’ve slept all day long and are fresh for the night and couldn’t give a shit how long you’ve been up.

Most of the crap you’ll be doing on any given call night is plain scut. The residents will use you to check labs, make copies, and to do any other leg work that they’re too lazy to complete. You might get to fill out an H&P, but I fucking hate those things just as much as any other scut. In fact, the H&P falls under the “scut” category as far as I’m concerned.

Medical students should only take call if they want to. This would narrow down the student on-call list to the gunners only, which is fine by me. Otherwise, call is a waste of time and intereferes with studying for the shelf exam. Gunners can “exceed expectations” and take my call while I sleep in.

Are you convinced to leave medicine? If so, you may feel like you are alone. You may feel clueless about what to do next. However, quitting medicine could turn out better than you have ever thought possible. And here is why you should get out …

This article is part of Hoover’s Med School Hell series. Med School Hell reveals the crazy truth about the crappiness of the US medical education and healthcare system … while making you laugh so hard, you’ll crap in your pants.

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