WIAW On Call
There are a lot of things you learn during your third year of medical school that are completely unrelated to medicine. A few examples…
The traffic lights in Boston neighborhoods don’t wake up until 6am. On my bike ride or drive to the hospital, I can’t help but think, “If the traffic lights don’t have to do their job, why do I?”
Scrubs are comfortable, but likely the least flattering work uniform ever invented. However, the draw of getting to wear free (to me) pajamas to work daily is the biggest appeal of surgical specialties, in my opinion.
Being awake and alert for 24 hours straight requires a lot of food, and some planning. Too often, call nights are sustained by chips, greasy fast food options, and sugary drinks. With a little planning, though, call days can be managed with healthy food choices and some sanity by the end of it! So, here is What I Ate Wednesday on my 24-Hour Obstetrics Call.
Travel mug of coffee with my last homemade bagel, half with almond butter and half with blackberry jam. Nibbled throughout my drive to the hospital and between pre-rounding tasks.
Lunch is usually the peak of a hospital cafeteria’s day, so I have found this is the best meal to purchase. The hospital I am at now has a GREAT salad bar that is not too expensive, so this tends to be my go-to option. That way, I make sure I get my veggies for the day! This salad had mixed greens, peas, chickpeas, carrots, sliced mushrooms, olives, feta, and noodle sticks with red wine vinegar and olive oil. With my student discount, it was only $4! Can’t beat that!
I never expect salads to hold me over all day, especially if things are busy and I am running around. For that reason, I always have a granola bar in my pocket for when afternoon hunger strikes! Having a healthy food option on hand helps prevent vending machine or nurse’s station munching. This Nature’s Valley Oats n’ Honey Crunch helped get me through the rest of a busy clinic session.
When the evening hours hit and the staff downsizes into night shift proportions, things become a little more unpredictable. This is when the motto, “Eat when you can, sleep when you can” comes into play. I reheated some leftover Thai Curry with Rice and started half of my dinner. Things started to get crazy though, and 2 C-sections later, I finished my dinner around 9:30pm.
Meanwhile, I had a few snacks between surgeries. A few clementines I had brought, a Ghiradelli chocolate square, and some saltines and 8-oz diet Gingerale taken from the nurse’s station helped to tide me over through a busy early evening.
My call night ended up being not busy after the early night rush, so my last granola bar served as “breakfast” to get me through morning rounds.
Some tips for new medical students planning for their first call:
Have lots of snacks. You don’t need to eat everything you have on you, but if things are busy, then you have lots of healthy food choices.
Have a few dollar bills on you. The only purchasable food options once the cafeteria closes down are from vending machines, and buying some trail mix is better than passing out in the OR from low blood sugar.
Have gum! And bring a tooth brush and toothpaste or mouthwash. You will probably want to freshen up your breath at some point…
You can try to bring all of your meals, but this can end up being a lot of food. If you do need to buy, buy lunch!
Eat when you can. Even if it is just a small snack, then you will have some energy when things get hectic.
Question: For any medical professionals reading, how do you handle planning for long hospital shifts?