Consider the places I’ve been
Then tell me, what does “call” mean?
For sometimes the word “call”
Means nothing at all
And sometimes it can make me turn green
Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. Assignments in Nome, Alaska, rural Iowa, and suburban Pennsylvania stretched into fall 2015. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor. After a moose hunt in Canada, and short jobs in western Iowa and Alaska, I am working in Clarinda, Iowa. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.
People can use the same word to mean different things, and the same person can use a word at different times to mean different things.
For example, when I worked in the Indian Health Service, “call” started at 4:30PM and lasted until 8:00AM. Weekend call started on Friday afternoon and lasted till Monday morning.
In my years of private practice, it started at 5:00PM and went till 7:00AM. The doc who took Friday evening call worked the clinic on Saturday from 9:00AM till 2:00PM. The physician with weekend call started Saturday as early as he or she wanted, rounded on the patients in the hospital, and took care of admissions till 7:00 Monday morning. For a long time we saw the patients who came to the ER, but that faded over the years. The on call doctor did the obstetrics over the weekend.
Call in Barrow (now called Utqiavik) never meant anything other than 12 hours, weekend, weekday, or holiday.
In Petersburg, the physician on call also covered the emergency room.
In western Nebraska, being on weekend call meant doing a Saturday clinic till noon, rounding on patients Saturday and Sunday, and admitting patients from the ER.
In Metlakatla, where we had no hospital beds, the two main ER nurses had excellent clinical skills. I could rely on them to know when I needed to come in and when I could safely wait to see the patient in the morning.
I have call this weekend, starting at 8:00AM on Thursday and going to 8:00AM on Monday. During that time, I’ll round on the hospitalized patients. But someone else will work the Emergency Room. If a patient needs admission, the Emergency doc does an admit note and writes admitting orders. If a patient needs me to come in and see them before morning, they generally need to be at a larger facility.
I have had two nights of call so far. The first one passed without my phone going off, not even once. The second time I worked steadily till 9:00PM stabilizing a very ill patient for transport.
But what does call really mean, here, this weekend?
I can tell you on Monday.
And I can guarantee it won’t mean the same thing a month from now.