Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tonight I began the arduous task of making the February call schedule. My deadline for publication of this monthly life-altering document is the 10th. Usually I have a decent draft prepared by the 6th, but the this time I do not.

Making the call schedule entails deciding which residents work each night and weekend, as well as honoring (to the best of my ability) requests for post-call days (days off after an overnight shift), and weekends off.

I though that by this point in the year I would have the process down to a couple of hours. Oh, was I naive! While it's true I have developed a system for making assignments efficiently, each new month presents me with a new challenge, be it a holiday weekend, multiple residents on vacation, or a personal conflict resulting in a request to "never ever work the same shift or even the same weekend with Dr. X."

Currently, as I lay the framework for the 8th month of this academic year, the challenge is my class: the so-called seniors. We complete residency in June, and suddenly everyone has something better to do than work weekends! It's completely understandable. For five years now, most of us have relinquished control over our nights and weekends to the various services on which we work. Why not try to take charge of one's life again, now that a light flickers at the end of a long tunnel?

The other, perpetual problem is the issue of distribution of resources. You can't put three novices on call together, nor does it make sense to have three seniors working together. And then the finer details: Who's trained in OB? Then two first-years can work together. But then you assume that the first year with OB experience will in fact go to OB. What if they don't?

I tell you, it's weighty stuff, this schedule-making business. I'm glad that the honors and privileges of being the chief resident expire after a year. There is some compensation for dealing with all these finicky details: occasionally I do gain control of my life. Within limits, I can choose which weekends I work and which I do not. But then, when I'm up doing my 2nd 24 hour shift of a weekend (as I was this past Sunday), who can I blame for this ridiculous notion that concentrating calls together is a good plan? None other than myself.


  1. Yikes! I'll take my chief resident scheduling duties any day over yours!

  2. Double yikes! I schedule third year medical students for their Family Medicine clerkship, it seems like rather a cakewalk in comparison! Hang in there...

  3. Thanks for the sympathy. After a weekend in which most of my waking hours were devoted to the UNM Dept of Anesthesiology (Saturday we interviewed another 25 candidates and Sunday I did a killer 12 hour shift), I published the schedule this morning. Hooray! I promise my next post will NOT be about work.