Last week, there was a mention over on Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor about never telling patients that you're on vacation, always say you're at a conference. While it wasn't the main point of the post, it caught my eye.
I know a lot of doctors who do that. Hell, I think my Dad (a lawyer) used to do it, too.
But me? No. If I take a vacation, I have no issue with patients knowing. If they don't like it, or get upset when I'm out sick, they can eat rocks. Or, better yet, find another neurologist, one who (as Annie puts it) "can provide for your very special needs better than we can."
Here's my weekday schedule: Alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m., so I can begin hospital rounds and see new consults that came in overnight. I get to the office between 6 and 7 so I can review stuff that came in overnight, look at charts for people coming in that day, and finish up any dictations from the day before.
Starting at 8, I see patients straight through, finishing up around 5:00 p.m. Unless there's a drug rep bringing lunch I usually have a noon patient, too. Crammed into the gaps I'm reviewing test results, returning calls, dictating notes, and exchanging insults with Pissy and the staff.
Then I have another 1-2 hours of hospital stuff to go back for. EEG's to read, test results to check, patients to send home, new consults to see. Then I get to head home. So, by the end of an average week, I've logged 60-70 hours.
Weekends? If I'm not on call, it's relatively quiet. That's good, because I need the time to catch up on all the crap that got tossed on my home desk during the week I didn't get a chance to look at. But if I'm on call (once every 4 weekends) I'm pretty much stuck at the hospital. I'm required to be able to be there within 30 minutes if called urgently. Since I live about that far away, it's easier to just stay there and deal with the pile of consults as they come in, rather then try to return home to do anything but sleep.
I'm not looking for sympathy. I signed up for this. I'm not bragging, either. This is what I do. I have a family, staff, and patients who depend on me.
But after living like that, week in and week out, I never feel guilty about taking time off. Besides, I don't actually go to conferences. With my schedule the last thing I want to do with my free time is use it to hang out with other doctors.
I work pretty hard. Like most of my patients, I have a family and a life outside of my work. And if they don't like that, or have a need to think that I live for this shit 24/7, then they're welcome to find a doc who does. It isn't me.