As a self proclaimed physician on-call geek I attended an audio conference last leek titled “Building the Right On-Call Policy”. The conference was geared at medical staff professionals yet I thought the topic of EMTALA compliance was not only interesting but it appears to be somewhat of a moving target, so I wanted to be sure I understood the latest and greatest CMS Memorandum concerning Critical Access Hospitals, Telemedicine and EMTALA On-Call Compliance. During the audio conference one of the presenters used a term that I had not heard before, a “good on-call citizen”. After the conference one of my colleagues and I both had made notes of that term and sat and talked for a while about what it could possibly mean to be a “good on-call citizen”.
If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that I am not a physician, but I am on-call for our company regularly. I am interested in starting a conversation about what it means to be a good on-call citizen and also hearing stories from others about their experiences at times when others have gone above and beyond the call-of-duty.
We all know that physicians go above and beyond regularly when it comes to taking care of their patients. I hear and read stories all the time (and some we even post on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/callscheduler) about the heroes of medicine. Many of the stories are about physicians putting in long hours or doing extraordinary things or taking extraordinary measures to save a life. Maybe it’s just me, but I think of those as great things, unique in the sense that if 100 people were all in a similar situation, only 1 or maybe 2 would do something great. I am trying to get at a more of a basic simple kindness or sense of responsibility to just in fact do what you’re supposed to do. For example, how often would you bend down to pick up a piece of trash off of the street or in a park. We all know it’s the right thing to do, yet most walk right over it.
As I was thinking about this topic further, I Google’d the phrase “what does it mean to be a good citizen” I got about 44,100,000 results. I saw terms such as law abiding, decent, helping, respect, attitude, nice, and a lot more uses of the term helping. One of the phrases I liked most was “serving when called upon”. I am amazed that each and every term or phrase that I found directly applies to being a good on-call citizen, especially serving when called upon.
I have written posts in the past about why I am so passionate about on-call, part of the reason is that I own a software company where that is the focus of our business. Scheduling doctors and others for on-call is how we make money and how my company contributes to the global economy. Because of this, as I stated above I am on-call a lot when it comes to maintaining an infrastructure of 99.9% service uptime. We take that seriously at all hours of the day, especially nights, weekends and holidays. Our service being up and available allows a hospital Emergency Department to locate a trauma team after a terrible automobile accident. The team at Call Scheduler is one link in a very long and extensive chain that helps hospitals and doctors save lives all over the world.
I have prepared a set of questions that can help determine of you or someone you know is or is not a good on-call citizen.
- How do you feel about being on-call, is it a big pain-in-the-ass or part of your honored duty as a needed member or the medical community?
- Do you respond when you are paged / texted or called with a smile or do you act like the person on the other end is bothering you?
- When you are needed do you respond as quickly as safely possible?
- Do you question others judgments differently at 3:00am than you do at 3:00pm?
- Do you think you’re the only one that is inconvenienced when you are paged?
- Do you hide your pager number of phone number from other providers such as nursing staff to avoid being called?
- Do you offer to help out when others do not respond?
- Do you serve when called upon?
Congratulations if you are a good on-call citizen, you are doing the job you’re supposed to be doing. If you are not as good of an on-call citizen as you should be, there is always time to change. After all you are only one page or call away from changing your behavior.
Key Takeaway: Whenever I get called in the middle of the night or anytime I try to remember that it’s not the person on the other end of the phones fault that our system needs help, they just need what we have in order to do their job. After all sometimes it’s nice to know you’re needed.
Image courtesy of Frameangel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net