For this group, the last weekend on call:Friday


I won’t say I’m having a ball

This weekend I’ve got the call

            I’ll be running in loops,

            I’ll cover two groups

We’ll see if I hit the wall.

This weekend I’m covering for two of the clinics in our Family Medicine group. I volunteered for it.

The docs in my clinic decided to stop covering hospital patients more than a year ago, when both of our hospitals developed viable hospitalist programs; I was the last of us to do regular hospital rounds, and I quit last October.

The other clinic still does inpatient work, and it felt like old times when I got a series of calls on Friday afternoon to tell me which patients I needed to see in the hospital and what I needed to do for them.

Friday afternoon was so slow as to be delicious, I suspect a lot of people were getting ready for the holiday and had better things to do than to come to the doctor.  But because of the holiday, coverage for Urgent Care also ran thin, so of course I volunteered for that as well.

I got home for a nap and a snack and went back to the office, missing our regular Friday evening pot luck at home.

On the way out I got a call from the Emergency Room about a patient who needed admission because of an unstable heart rhythm; by the time the patient was ready to go to the nursing floor, they would be stable enough to wait for me to do the history and physical at 9:30PM.

In three hours I saw fourteen patients at Urgent Care: four ear infections, three foot problems, six coughs, five smokers, three babies, one sinusitis, one emphysema, one colic, one dysuria, two grade schoolers, two adolescents, several elderly.  On two occasions I said, “That’s not an Urgent Care problem, you need to see your regular doctor about that.”  I kept up a good pace.  It was gratifying work, I finished with a sense of accomplishment; I had moved quickly but hadn’t been abrupt with the patients, and I had never fallen more than ten minutes behind.

I went directly from the office to St. Luke’s.  The nurses on 5 Medical greeted me warmly and talked about how much they missed me.  I told them of my future plans, and they talked about how they looked forward to seeing me back. 

I tried to be brief but warm.  Chatty conversation with non-patients is fun but inefficient, and by that time I had been going 14 hours and my day wasn’t getting shorter.  I was able to do the history and physical, dictate the findings, write the orders for a nine item problem list, read them to the nurse, and tell a joke to the nursing staff (thoroughly crude, by their request) in about an hour.

I had a good day, busy without overwhelming.  I felt like I got a lot done.

Even 5% busier would have left me whining and angry at the end of the day.


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