I'm on Clinical Pathology call this week. This is the one that can drag you in on the weekends, but usually doesn't require coming in on weeknights, but rather answering complicated questions at 2 in the morning. I'd say I'm getting a much better hang of it, but that will ensure I have a terrible shrill screaming pager night, so I'll say nothing of the sort.
I've had one call so far tonight and the day the attendings of my hospital collectively get together and realize that when they get paged by a Dr. (Generic Half of Last Name) to a cell phone number (I got tired of hanging around the hospital phone like a jilted date), they're getting duped by an aggravated resident will be a much rougher one for me. Apparently the lab had been paging this guy since the mid afternoon with no answer despite increasingly urgent messages, which put me on the case. I used my "get surgeons to call me" trick and my phone lit up within three minutes. Mwa ha ha ha ha.
If you are speaking with a patient or actively cutting things inside them, I am absolutely happy understanding a wait. But ignoring the lab all day because you deem their results unimportant? Considering that the last time I had a full call week, I stripped down during an autopsy *five times* because my pager was going off, I'm not hearing it. When I do get nailed at 3 AM, I jolt out of bed, take long enough to flip my computer open and find a good reception spot, and call back. Because chances are the person calling me doesn't really want to wait up for me to call back at 3 AM either.
Things to know about call... hmm...
1. If you're at a hospital that uses a pager system, there *will* be one specific pager alarm that is awful, shrill, and will wake up anyone, which is why you will use it when you're on call, opposed to your normal "chirp and vibrate" for your waking workday. After a couple of times on call, you will have a visceral awful reaction anytime you hear it. If you're in a conference room and that alarm goes off, *everyone* will reflexively twitch, shudder, and snap for you to change it. If you have a significant other, that individual will similarly be negatively conditioned.
2. Pagers hate showers. You can have three hours of absolutely nothing and the minute you get shampoo in your hair, ring!!!
3. Pagers like reckless driving. Fast moving but heavy traffic between freeway exits is prime pager territory.
4. Pagers LOVE the hour before you were due to get up. This way they can ensure you are short slept while depriving you of any opportunity to go to sleep *or* the potential to try to sleep in since "you're already up".
5. Pages love company. If you get ten pages on a Saturday, they will absolutely all be within a half hour of each other, and the sudden flux will make you so paranoid, you won't leave your desk for the rest of what will no doubt be a dead silent rest of your day.
6. Pagers give off psychic energy. If they cannot psychically compel other people to call and wake you up, they will merely falsely broadcast dreams of them going off. If you don't wake up in a suitable panic, they will up the ante by broadcasting dreams of missing critical pages.
7. Pagers loathe patients. Pagers enjoy afflicting patients with whatever ailment will require the most satellite resources at times when those resources cannot possibly be mobilized, requiring stop-gap measures. Pager favorites are HLA matched platelets on Fridays after the Red Cross has closed and organ donations. I can help, but I can't fix until three different labs in two different cities have opened for business at 9 AM on Monday morning. The pagers of surgeons, I'm told, enjoy introducing simultaneous critical patients that require the same specialist.
8. Pagers are offended by blog posts condemning them. Mine just went off.
These should help guide you all in your own experiences.