I just recently finished a four-month Family Medicine rotation. Our after-hours duties on Family Medicine are as casualty officers at the Accident and Emergency Departments of two different hospitals. Because A&E has high-intensity decision making, our shifts were not allowed to be longer than twelve hours (compare: 24 hour shifts in any other department).
This means that on any one day, four of us would be on call (two at each hospital).
It made the roster a little full and for the first time during my internship, I saw people completely missing the fact that they were on duty that day. It happened to me, too.
But sometimes it happened that a person realised too late that there was an error in the roster. Like when they were put on back-to-back calls.Or they were already out of town for the weekend without realising they were meant to be on call.
Or sometimes, as with any rotation, one of us got sick.
There was one of our colleagues who volunteered to help out not once, but TWICE.
Twice she cancelled her plans for the evening to do a call that someone else could not make. Of course, they would then do one of her calls; but all the same, she did them (and us) a huge favour.
I told her once, “You’re like the fairy-godmother of saving calls.”
She said, “I just think we should stick together more.”
Now isn’t that the attitude doctors should have? In a high-stress job where it sometimes feels like everyone from the janitor to the CEO is out to get us, shouldn’t we help each other as much as we can?
We really should.