The day was going relatively better (I now have myself persuaded that it’s only a week till the end of the month, and a week can’t be that bad), until I ran into some serious bureaucratic problems, better not addressed here. Tomorrow I’m going to be in trouble. . .

So we’ll take a commenter’s question about sick days instead:

I think there’s something in federal work regulations somewhere about employees being allowed a couple sick days off a year. I suppose they would be obliged to let us if we asked. I wouldn’t know, that kind of thing is frowned upon among residents. I’ve known one of the other surgery residents to be so sick she had to run out of the OR to throw up, and then stay till the end of the day. I had one day where I drove home from work and threw up the minute I got out of the car (that was not a fun ride). This morning I felt nearly as bad, but I didn’t want to make the others do my work, so I rounded a little faster, and then found a cot to curl up on for half an hour till I felt better. I’ve seen internal medicine residents whom you could diagnose with the flu from the other end of the hallway, staying all day and leaving only two or three hours early. (We wash our hands a lot, and wear extra gloves, on such days.) I’ve known a fellow resident, the day his baby was born, spend the night on the OB unit with his family for the delivery, and come to work the next day. (That’s taking it a little too far.)

It’s not that the administration said or implied anything. We just hate it when someone adds to our workload, and so we push ourselves to the edge to avoid dumping our work on someone else. Having appendicitis is usually considered one of the only good excuses.

Medical students have been known to take sick days. I did, once. As long as you call in and let the residents know what’s happening, it’s acceptable – but you’d better really be sick.

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