Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Time is More Valuable Than Yours Part Two

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in the lounge waiting for something and I struck up a conversation with one of the other anaesthetists who was also waiting for his surgeon to arrive. (I have never added it up but I suspect I have now spent months of my life waiting for surgeons to arrive) It was however the excuse for why the surgeon was late that struck me.

The surgeon had phoned ahead and told the OR he would be starting late because he had to take his oldest daughter to her first day of school. How sweet. How nice for the anaesthetist who gets to cool his heels, along with the nurses while the Kodak moment is occurring. How many of the nurses are missing their children's first day of school because if they show up late, they might actually get in trouble? And of course the surgeon will want everybody to be extra efficient the rest of the day so he finishes on time after starting late so that he can get home early to debrief his daughter on her milestone day, maybe even pick her up from school.

I of course missed both my children's first days of school. I'm still not sure what constitutes the first day of school, is it playschool, kindergarten or Grade One. Never mind, I missed all 6 of them.

I have long accepted that part of being an anaesthesiologist means you work when other people want you to work. If I have enough warning about important events, I take the day off if I can. Sometimes I have gotten somebody to take over my room so that I can get to that late afternoon concert, soccer game, hockey practice or "leaving ceremony". I coached hockey for a year. One of the parents commented on why, if I was a doctor, was I able to make almost every game and practice. I didn't bother explaining, the amount of horse trading, begging and soul selling I had to do. On call is different with call schedules usually made three months in advance and the complexity making it difficult to switch. When the "oh by the way" evening school concert happens to fall on my call day, I have in the past found somebody to come in for a few hours in the evening. Often I just missed them. It is the price I have to pay for being able to call myself Dr. and earn 6 figures.

The point is our family oriented surgeon could have switched OR days with one of his partners or he could have given up his time that day. (His wife is an ophthalmologist, why does he have to work at all?) Open OR time is usually snapped up within minutes. But he didn't because his time is way more important than everybody else's.

Why did I think of this just now? I was on call last night and the same surgeon had a presumably strangulated or incarcerated hernia he wanted to do. When we were ready to send for the patient and phoned him, he announced he couldn't come until after 2000 because his wife an ophthalmologist was at journal club and he was baby sitting his children. This fellow has a nanny (I know this because he was talking about how he bought a car for her) and I am sure there are lots of teenagers in the neighbourhood who would love to babysit his perfect children just like we had to do when I was on call and my wife wanted to do something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favorite late surgeon excuse was "I had to bury my cat." My thought response was "Wouldn't it have still been dead this afternoon?"