I just finished 9 STRAIGHT WEEKS on the inpatient wards. As rigorous and rewarding as that experience was, I am thankful to have moved on to a lighter rotation for a little while. What makes inpatient wards so “rigorous” you might ask? Being on call. That means staying in the hospital every few days to admit new patients. Yes. That means being up all night. It’s what comes with our medical training as medical students/residents and although an invaluable experience, it can take a toll on you.
Even though there is no way to escape being on call, you can escape some of the negative after effects of being on call by using these SIX TIPS to make sure you are productive and refreshed.
1. Write it down
This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s something that is easily overlooked. Try to limit to your important tasks to 1-3 things that you need to accomplish. Post-call time can be cherished in that you feel like you have all this time during the day to get “real life adult things” done, but you should still keep in mind that you are sleep-deprived. You are not at your peak level of alertness and hence should not push yourself too hard.
2. Find ENERGY!
Head to the gym or the park immediately you leave the hospital and go get your workout on! Keep your gym bag packed and in your car so you make no excuses to head home. You don’t want to over exert yourself, but breaking a sweat for at least 20-30 minutes will give you a boost of energy and do your body good. Also, it’s a good idea to stay away from caffeine or “energy drinks”, especially later in the day. Even though you may not feel as alert and focused as you would like to be, you don’t want this to get in the way of your normal nocturnal slumber.
3. Treat yourself
YOU DESERVE IT! You worked hard taking care of patients and answering pages from nurses all night. It is no easy feat to remain high-functioning when you normally would be catching some Zzzzs in the embrace of your own bed. So pat yourself on the back and do something rewarding. Some of my favorite ways to treat myself post-call are to get a massage or mani/pedi or go to brunch. 🙂
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4. Take a nap
Just like your cell phone or any other electronic, you need to recharge. Take a nap, but for no more than 3-4 hours. You want to rest, but you do not want to get your circadian rhythm all turned upside down.
5. Do something FUN!
Another tip that may seem self-explanatory lol. But just do it. Go meet up with friends for drinks or at the movies. Go to that new art exhibit at the museum you have been wanting to see. Read a book. Not a textbook. You know..like one for leisure. One that takes your mind to places that don’t require you to think about vital signs and pending lab results. Return that voicemail to your best friend. From two weeks ago. Hey, we’ve all been there. Lol.
6. Go to sleep early
Did I mention that you are post-call and sleep-deprived? Going to bed a few hours before your normal time will help in refreshing your body and mind as well as prepare you to be productive for the next day. Which for most of us is another day at work. 😉
What tips do you have to make the most out of your post-call day? Comment below if you have tried any of these and let me know what you think!
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xoxo Oma N. 🙂