This morning I tried to invite myself to another one of the chairman’s surgeries, and was essentially told to go pay attention to my own team. This would be the one day that I got to the hospital exactly by the deadline I set myself, saw five patients (a quarter of the census) before 7:30am, discussed three of them with the residents (more than usual), and arranged to come to the only case of the day later in the morning. We don’t have clinic. So, I went off to the library, telling myself to give up the attempt to make up to the chairman. I didn’t think I had the knack for kissing up, and now I know I don’t. It was an interesting case, too, paraesophageal hernia. Well, I guess I’ll be seeing plenty of everything.

This evening, there being absolutely no action on the general surgery side (I checked the OR twice, and the control room is tired of seeing me around), I poked into the ER, and was told to go study, if I’m not assigned there. Very nicely, but that was the gist; there wasn’t much interesting happening. Ok, I’ve made a nuisance of myself to everyone in the hospital, I can now retire into a corner with a book and not feel like I’ve left any educational stones unturned.

I was looking at the FRIEDA information on different surgical residencies today. I still can’t quite believe I’m doing this. There’s no rational reason not to, and when I play with the idea of settling back to ob/gyn it doesn’t make me feel much better. But q3 call! Two-thirds of the programs I looked at so far have at least their senior residents on q3 call most of the year. The interns actually have it better, q4 or 5. And then they claim to have 70 or 80 hr work weeks. Someone is lying through their teeth, and I know it. Not that I mind, I’m sure I will lie about hours too when I get to be a surgical resident; there’s absolutely no way they can cover the patients, and get the necessary experience, in only 80 hours. (The other day I heard one of the chiefs here – a woman – talking about the reprimands she’s gotten from the authorities for staying late to finish her work. She feels too much responsibility to leave.) What I can’t figure out is how any of them stay married.

Anyhow. Q3 call. On call one day, post-call the next day, and pre-call the third. And on a regular day you probably have to stay till 6 or 7pm. That’s not really funny. On the other hand, what else would I do with my life? God knows I don’t have any family commitments to distract me. It’s not like I have anything really worthwhile to do outside of a hospital. If atheists can put up with this, for the sake of ambition or money or general altruism (although I doubt that any intern, let alone a surgical one, has much of that left), surely by God’s strength I can manage it for the sake of His kingdom among the Muslims. And being in the hospital isn’t that bad; it’s consuming, there’s too much going on to think about anything except the job at hand. It’s at home, and driving, that you have time to think about what else you could be doing. Moral, live closer to the hospital, and stop daydreaming. . .

I was talking with one of the other medical students, who thought he wanted to do ER, but is also being magnetically attracted by surgery. He commented that for all the awful hours, the residents (here at least) seem fairly happy, and don’t complain about the lifestyle much. We agreed that it’s because, if you get into this, you do it with your eyes open. We all went to medical school without the slightest clue what we were getting into, what a huge commitment we were making; but for residency, we won’t have that excuse. So I’m banging my head against what this is going to be like, so I can’t complain later on. Hey, what’s life without a challenge?

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