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How do residencies handle Christmas?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Toadkiller Dog, May 15, 2002.

  1. Toadkiller Dog

    Toadkiller Dog Senior Member
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    I suppose I should ask some of the residents here at my school, but I'd be interested to hear from other sites as well. How do your programs handle the winter holidays? Do you get any time off, or even Christmas eve/day? Any efforts made at all?

    I'd be interested to hear from the differente extremes, from FP to General Surgery to Path.
     
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  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Here it was service dependent - ie, up to your Chief but every effort was made to give everyone an extra 4 days off around the holidays. Thus, you either generally had the four days around Christmas off (usually the day before, Christmas and two days after) or the 4 days around New Years off. Some of the upper levels had to agree to stay in town to help cover for Traumas, emergent OR cases that couldn't be handled in house.
     
  4. NuMD97

    NuMD97 Senior Member
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    Early on we were asked to choose between five days for Christmas break or five days for New Year's. The odd thing was most wanted New Year's off instead of Christmas. But it worked out in the end. We had one day of overlap to transfer the patient load to the other team before the team working on Christmas signed off to the folks working New Year's. This was Medicine.
     
  5. doughboy

    doughboy Senior Member
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    My hospital does the same in dividing the time into two parts of 5 days each. You either work the first five or the second five days. I think that's a nice set up. That's for OB-GYN.
     
  6. X-tremist

    X-tremist Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">The odd thing was most wanted New Year's off instead of Christmas

    C'mon man- you are in NY. Who wants to miss new years in New York??????????????
     
  7. eagle26

    eagle26 Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by 007:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">The odd thing was most wanted New Year's off instead of Christmas

    C'mon man- you are in NY. Who wants to miss new years in New York??????????????</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Think about caseload, particularly in an ER setting, around New Year's compared to Christmas. That is why everyone wants New Year's off, IMHO.
     
  8. NuMD97

    NuMD97 Senior Member
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    Originally posted by 007:

    "C'mon, man - you are in NY." Yes I am. But who said the hospital was? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> Never assume. :)

    Nu
     
  9. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    Well, let me put it this way... you ever see "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?" <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" />
     
  10. Neurogirl

    Neurogirl Resident Extraordinaire
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    I had to work on Christmas day AND New Years eve!!!! Totally sucked!!!! :mad:
     
  11. Toadkiller Dog

    Toadkiller Dog Senior Member
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    That does stink. What sort of service were you on? Sounds like folks in other (demanding) specialties got at least some time off....
     
  12. atsai3

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    Here is an article that appeared in the Boston Globe a few years back. I'm reposting because it appears to be relevant...

    Cheers
    -a.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Weary residents doctors fight own holiday blues
    By Anne Barnard, Globe Staff, 12/12/2000

    The e-mail to surgery residents at Brigham & Women's Hospital, sent a few days after many of them had worked on Thanksgiving, dashed any hope for a break during the next round of holidays:

    ''Do not ever ask again to have your schedule changed,'' wrote the chief resident. ''Do not ever ask again to have your vacation changed or extended. No changes or accommodations will be made.
    ''If a close family member drops dead you may discuss it with the administrative chief if you have proof of the death. otherwise shut up and go to work. this is surgical residency, not summer camp.''

    Holiday stress may be universal, but few face a more grueling regimen than residents, doctors completing their training as hospital workhorses. Far from home, missing their families, they deal with the dark side of the holidays: drunken driving accidents, a spike in suicides, terminally ill patients facing their last Christmas.

    ''It's dark when they go to work. It's dark when they go home. There are more patients and they're sicker,'' said Dr. Joel T. Katz, director of the internal medicine residency program at Brigham & Women's. ''It can be a very, very dark time.''

    Residents sacrifice their personal lives to medicine year-round, working 36-hour shifts and rarely getting weekends off. But as the days get shorter, their jobs get even tougher. Hospitals are packed. The flu season is peaking. Tempers can flare. And the buck stops with residents.

    Hence the memo to Brigham's surgeons. The author, Dr. David P. Mason, said he was frustrated by a flood of vacation requests. He tries to accommodate his team, he said, but ''one person changing one day can throw an entire schedule off.''

    Mason, 35, who cannot remember the last time he had Thanksgiving off, said he meant the memo as a tongue-in-cheek reminder of doctors' grave responsibilities - and was surprised that someone on his staff was miffed enough to forward it to the Globe.

    To be sure, doctors say, they are never more aware of the responsibility to help patients than during the holiday season.

    ''You know that you have to be there for these patients,'' said Dr. Tom Gaviano, a cardiology fellow at Brigham who recently completed his residency there. One of the hardest days, he said, was his first Christmas Eve, when he missed his family's traditional Italian fish feast.

    So hospitals go to great lengths to ward off the holiday blues. Boston Medical Center buys lobster dinners for its pediatric residents. Brigham's senior doctors bake pies and bring in turkeys. And at Massachusetts General Hospital, surgery residents, the most overworked of doctors, have invented perhaps the most elaborate holiday tradition: They treat a Santa Claus dummy for sleigh-crash injuries and eggnog overdoses and send him on his way by Christmas Eve.

    Santa's medical chart goes back decades and includes numerous defibrillations, psychiatric consults, and doses of red and green IV fluid. His admitting note is written to the meter of ''The Night Before Christmas.''

    Yet there is little anyone can do about the underlying problem: ''Hospitals have no shock absorption other than residents,'' said Dr. Ruth Potee, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and a member of the city's only residents' union.

    ''We have a higher responsibility to the hospital,'' said Mason, the Brigham chief resident. ''Really, everything else in our lives becomes secondary.''

    Mason has had a few dark moments himself. One year, he said, the only birthday greeting he got was an automatic message from the hospital computer system.

    Yet he has never minded missing holidays. Like many residents interviewed for this story, he said there is a certain satisfaction, an esprit de corps, during those times.

    ''We are the glue that holds the hospital together,'' he said. ''I'm not removed from my family on the holiday because the people I work with are my family.''

    Doctors, nurses, and other employees spend a lot of holiday energy covering each other's shifts, feeding each other, and trying to stay cheerful in the least festive of circumstances.

    ''Things that would be tragic anyway are even more tragic over the holidays,'' said Dr. Jennifer Wargo, the Mass. General resident in charge of Santa.

    Families often delay trips to the hospital until the end of Christmas Day, which results in sicker patients being brought in and an increased workload, said Dr. Jerome Klein, who launched the lobster dinners idea at Boston Medical Center. His colleague, Dr. Barbara L. Phillipp, added that the hospital's largely poorer clientele often seems depressed and strained during the holidays.

    Gaviano told of a Christmas in the intensive care unit, when the nurses brought in Santa hats and food. At first, he said, it felt eerie to celebrate around patients who, for the most part, were unable to share in the holiday. But then he realized it reenergized the staff to take care of those people.

    ''The work was rewarding that night,'' he said.
     

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