Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

August 10, 2005 | Volume 5, Issue 1

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The Golden Weekend!

Dr. Karl

Interns and residents have traditionally looked forward with great anticipation to that special weekend after they’re on call on a Thursday. As soon as they’re done with their post-call work the next morning, they’re free to enjoy a whole 2 ½ days off until the soul-crunching grind starts up again on Monday. Still, confronted with the prospect of all that free time, many housestaff are uncertain as to how to make the best use of it.

This month, Q Fever!’s I&R correspondent, Dr. Karl Newman, gives us practical advice on: The Golden Weekend.

Hey, chil’ren! Gather ‘round so’s I can see you. Closer, now – don’t be frightened. C’mon, closer! Sit in a circle facing me and join hands, won’t you? Good. Excellent!

Now today I wanted to wax ‘n’ wane about a subject that interns ask me about all the time. Just yesterday a dude came to me and was like, “yo YO, I got me an on-call on T’ursday, and I got like the entire weekend off after that, so it got me wonderin’ what kinda things I should frankly be doin’ with myself, other than stuff I can frankly be doin’ with myself anytime, dig?”

Sure, I dug. I dug! So I sat him down on my lap and told him what I’m about to tell you. “Son,” I said, “there are five to seven things that you must know about this upcoming weekend, which the masters call the Golden Weekend, of which I am going to share with you whichever ones I can currently recall, which will probably be only be one or two, but if at some point in the near future my memory is jogged, and the other items arise once again into my consciousness, I shall make it my goal to bring them to your attention with great haste, and without hesitation.”

Yeah, there are lots of things you could do with your Golden Weekend. But what are the things that, over the years, have had the biggest impact on long-term success in residency and beyond? My friends, the secrets of the stars are revealed to you now:

1) Get To Know The Staff.

Sure, you know most of the other interns and residents in your specialty. And you probably know some residents in other fields too, and maybe some of the administrators. But how well do you know the people who really run the hospital? That’s right, I’m talking about the people that make the place what it really is – the custodial staff, engineering, cafeteria workers, housekeeping and laundry services – who take just as much pride in their work as you do, and with much less whining I might add.

So, on my Golden Weekends, I try to make it a point to spend at least six to eight hours shadowing someone, like in maintenance or something like that. I’ll hang out with them, learn what’s great about their jobs and what’s not, maybe help out on some of the less humiliating chores, and at the end of the day I’ll follow them to their homes and help myself to dinner. Later, as I fall asleep on their sofas (or, if I’m lucky, snuggled up between them and their spouses), I’ll have the peaceful satisfaction that, yeah, I’ve really done something special, and I’ve really given it my all. Be careful though – many people prefer that you leave before breakfast, since by then you’ve usually proven yourself to be quite the nuisance.

2) Learn What It’s Like.

When you’re admitting your eighth patient of the night on call, it’s easy to get caught up in the boggy little details and lose sight of the big picture. Remember, medicine is about the patient, not about you! So it’s a good idea to get reacquainted with the patient’s point of view whenever you can, to recapture the essence of being a doctor.

That’s why, on the first night of a Golden Weekend, right after I’ve taken my “golden shower,” I’ll head over to the ER with a bogus ailment like chest pain or abdominal pain, and try to get myself admitted for a couple of days. Usually the worst that’ll happen is I’ll get an IV put in by a medical student who’s got no clue, though one time I think I coded and had to be shocked a few times. Long story. Anyhow the best part is that once you’re admitted, you get free meals, watch TV all day, and get to do those word-search puzzles you otherwise never get a chance to do. And don’t forget the continuous oxygen by nasal cannula! If that doesn’t clear your sinuses, nothing will.

A variation on this theme is to get admitted to Psych, although you gotta make sure you put in your 72-hour notice as soon as you get in, or else you’ll miss rounds on Monday!

3) Travel the World.

Let’s face it, you really don’t get much time off during residency. Two, three weeks off a year ... that’s it? So when are you gonna get a chance to see the world? Never? Nope, that ain’t quite true, ‘cuz a Golden Weekend’s the perfect time to see places you’ve always wanted to, but never thought you’d have time. Here’s how you do it. On Friday morning, go straight from the hospital to the airport. Choose a destination – any one’ll do, as long as it’s real far – real far. March right on up to the counter and buy yourself a ticket ... they still sell ‘em that way, believe it or not. Last-minute fares can be a little expensive, but it’ll be worth it – trust me! I went to Australia one weekend for only about $2250 round-trip coach, and got to spend more than two hours there. It was cool! Plus you don’t have to worry about hotel or car rental ... just hop back on the plane. Again, you get free food the whole way, and if you’re lucky you can snag a deck of cards too.

Remember also that if you go to the Far East, you’ll actually gain a day or two on the way back, so you’ll still have the entire weekend to spend once you get back! In my book, this is one of the best bargains anywhere. Well worth the trouble!!

WHOOAAH, looks like we’re out of time again, kids! Well, hope you found that little didactic session useful. I sure did, but now my foot’s asleep ... must be that danged tarsal tunnel acting up again. So for now, keep your hands in the air and your knees on the pavement, and I’ll see you next time. And till then,

“Just tell ‘em Dr. Karl sent ya!”

Karl Newman, MD is a second-year resident in Internal Medicine. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Q Fever!, its editors, or its writers.

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