The Switch

I experienced my very first switch call this block.  And firsts always call for a blog post.

Ah, but what is switch call, the uninitiated may ask?  Switch call is almost as bad as in-house call (i.e. being stuck in hospital for 26 hours).  Switch call begins at home call (i.e. cozied up with a book and a blanket) and then you spend enough time at the hospital after midnight (i.e. cold and hungry in your rattiest hoodie and scrubs) for it to count as a “switch.”  Like in-house, switch call gives you the benefit of a post-call day, yay!

So yes.  The switch.

Here’s a rundown of how it goes.  (Times changed to protect the patients.)

12:00 noon – Pity party.  Code blue that morning means being physically and emotionally drained, and there’s still 20 patients in clinic that need seeing.  And charting.  And dictating.

17:00 – At work.  Ugh.  Hungry.

18:00 – First consult.  It’s a legitimately sick patient and really needs help.  I can help.  Feeling useful and satisfied.  But still hungry.

19:00 – At home.  AGH.  SO HUNGRY.  And now also hangry.

20:30 – Fed and watered, mood significantly improved.  Post-prandial sleepiness begins, but the family needs visiting.

21:00 – First page.  Sick patient continues to be sick.  Continuing to feel useful.  Also have family’s approval to see their gazillion dollars weren’t wasted on educating a total moron.

22:30 – Second page.  Need to clarify meds because I was dumb and didn’t order the right route the first time.  So much for sub-total moron.

23:30 – Finally to bed.  Sweet sleep.  Sweet… <yawn> sleepy… sleeeeeeeeep…


0:31 – Holy Jesus, &@&*, effing !$*@ oh pager.  Oh okay.  Pager.  Kay.  Wake up.  Wakeupwakeupwakeup.

0:32 – Third page.  Sick person coming.  I need to come in.  Yes, you should please page the real doctor, am I qualified for this?

0:33 – Quickly brush teeth.  I feel sick.  I think… I might… nope.  False alarm.

0:34 – Splitting headache.  Urp.  Urrrrrrr… no, no, I’m okay.  Urp – nope, still okay.

0:35 – Pull on scrubs.  Where are my shoes?  Where do I keep my shoes.  In a closet.  Where is the closet.  What is a closet.

0:36 – Oh my God what if I have to resuscitate somebody.  Do I know how to do that?  I took that course.  I should.  Yes.  Yes, I do.  Maybe.  No I totally got it.

0:40 – Drive to hospital.  Safely.  Slowly.

1:30 – Patient arrives. Does, in fact, require resuscitation.  Offer assistance where needed but mostly watch in wonderment and awe.  It’s all so fluid and fast.

2:30 – Continue to resuscitate.  Awake.  Super duper awake.  Buggy-eyes awake.

3:30 – Do a procedure for the first time on my own.  Very supportive staff all around, lots of pats on the back.  What a lovely feeling.  “Well if it doesn’t work, you know which resident to blame, hah hah hah hah hah!”

3:45 – Murphy’s Law occurs.  Nothing I did wrong, specifically, but it doesn’t just fix itself.

4:00 – Consults 2 and 3.  Equally sick people.  Once again useful and competent.  Self-confidence rollercoaster continues.

5:00 – Dictate.  Must… okay, focus.  History of presenting… uh… dis- no, illness.  Age is… what even is their age… Wow, that person sure is pretty.  So nice, too.  Such nice hair.

5:01 – No, no, no, focus.  (But hungry.)  This patient presented… uh, presented with… (So huuuuuungryyyyyy…) God, they’re nice-looking.  And so nice.  Amazing hair.

5:45 – Drive home.  Is this the reeeeeeeeal liiiiiife, is this just fantasyyyyyy…

6:15 – FOOD.  YUSS.

6:30 – This is the sole reason I have a dryer now.  Warm blankies for bedtime.  🙂


And that’s pretty much it.  In-house call certainly isn’t nice, but at least you’re prepared to be up all night.  You’re in hospital, you have your little snack-pack and your comfortable hoodie.  Nobody can anticipate when switch call happens.

Just another little sneak peek into the weird life I lead.

 – Atalanta

Photo courtesy of: Feelart |


1 Comment

Filed under Medicine

One response to “The Switch

  1. It might be helpful for your dictation to write out a “script” for yourself first, even if it’s just a few brief notes to remind yourself what to say (CC, PMHx, Meds, Allergies, etc.). As a new nurse, I literally used to write out a script for myself when I had to call doctors, so I wouldn’t be riffling through the chart while they were waiting.

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