The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Perfect Example of Why I'm Getting the Hell Out Of Academic Centres

Warning: Gratuitous vent ahead.

When the December call schedule came out at the end of November, I was surprised to see myself put on call on December 28th. According to our union contract, every resident is entitled to 5 consecutive days of vacation, either over Christmas or over New Year's. Now, since I'm related to many people with crazy schedules I opted to apply for New Year's over Christmas... I figured I'd be more likely to get what I wanted and could arrange two different celebrations. One with my family the week before Christmas (this week) by taking a week of vacation, and one with my in-laws the week after Christmas (the New Year's block). Everyone would be happy.

So when I applied for my New Year's block and didn't get any response (all vacation requests need to be denied within two weeks, or they're considered approved), I made my holiday plans for that period... my five days were December 29th, 30th and 31st and January 1st and 2nd. Then the December schedule came out and I was on call the 28th. That means that I'm actually working until at least 10am on my first day of "vacation". Totally not allowed by union contract. So I'm only getting four days of vacation instead of the five I'm supposed to get.

I e-mailed the chief resident as soon as the schedule came out, thinking it was just a mistake. I was told that 'someone has to take that day', and told that I wasn't going to get an additional day elsewhere to make up for it. Basically, I was brushed off. I mentioned it to our program secretary who sent an e-mail stating in no uncertain terms that they had no right to take a day off my holiday, and to please change it. No response. I mentioned it at a recent union meeting, and another e-mail was sent. No response. Finally, the contract compliance guy got the big guns (i.e. union lawyer) to draft a letter threatening grievance if the contract was not honoured.

Finally, a response. I was pulled aside yesterday by the chief resident who expressed his anger at being contacted by the union lawyer in no uncertain terms. He said that I took him by surprise... apparently no one has EVER complained about having their vacation shortened after being previously approved before. Right. I'm sure.

He said that if I was 'determined' to follow our union contract 'to the letter', he'd start following other rules to the letter as well. He threatened, for starters, to make me work every day over holidays as though it were a normal day (due to OR shutdowns and cancelled clinics over holidays we usually just treat each day as a weekend day and the person on call covers both that day and night). I asked if he'd be expecting this of everybody, and he responded that this would be enforced on 'a case-by-case basis'. Meaning, obviously, that I'd be doing this alone. He then pointed out that I only have 5 call in December and therefore have no right to complain. I pointed out that 5 is the maximum number of call that anyone on the schedule is doing in December, and that I have the same number of call as everyone else in spite of having a week of vacation. His response was that he could legally (according to the contract) have given me more, particularly on the weekends flanking my week of vacation. Hint, hint, eh? Sigh.

So I'm being forced to suck it up. It's apparently not enough that I work my ass off for enough hours every week to be equivalent to two and a half NORMAL jobs, but now the minute I try to stick up for the time off that I'm entitled to by my contract, I get threatened by my senior. I can't freaking believe this shit.

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Anonymous Sandra said...

I feel really bad for you. I know that you work your butt off. I can't believe this is how you are treated, wasn't he in your position before? You would think he would more than understand the need for the full five days of rest! What a f&$%ing a#*hole!!!

9:35 PM

Anonymous Sandra again said...

By the way, now that you have a few days off get back to me regarding the pictures I sent you.

9:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad these blogs are open to the public. I feel so much safer in the hands of you angry doctors that I will be sure not to go to the hospital if I am ever in Canada. I think I would not make it out alive.

ps ever realize your blog is read by ALL....including your employer. I bet you even write your blogs while on company time :)

10:17 PM

Anonymous ron said...

i guess this is part of "paying your dues"...thats a bummmer. from an employer perspective, i can kind of understand his frustrations with his job..and what he has to deal with. but from your perspective it stinks. and i disagree with anonymous, i would be happy to put my life in your hands..(assuming that things are going well with your spouse..ha.. can we ask doctors about their personal life before they operate on us?)... ;-)

10:33 PM

Blogger Nikki said...

Wow, that anonymous note is just more of a piss-off!

I'm sorry, this situation sucks. Frigging politics of medicine.

11:53 PM

Blogger Kate said...

Ohh, looks like you got the denouncing comment from the anonymous poster as well. So did I! Only mine said I was some spoiled little rich kid, blah, blah, blah. Too bad he had to agree with the evil comment left by my mother! I love your blog. Please keep writing!!!!

1:24 AM

Blogger Couz said...

Oh please. I am the only resident I know who hasn't seriously contemplated leaving medicine in the past six months. And you think *I'm* angry? You might want to stay out of hospitals altogether if it bothers you. Or teaching hospitals, at least.

First of all, I don't post from work. Not because it's "company time" (which, since when my salary is divided by the number of hours I work it works out to less than minimum wage after 11 years of university education is not so much of a concern) but because who the hell has the time?

Second, my blog is anonymous. No one at works knows I write it.

Third, all the things I've posted here I said to him directly during our confrontation.

Finally... why are the trolls always anonymous? Why can't there be any assholes brave enough to leave a name or identity of some kind?

9:21 AM

Blogger Carina said...

They did that a lot to my hubby in residency. There was an unwritten rule that you had to be on-call the day before a vacation started and the first day you got back. It sucked.

Unfortunately, he didn't have a union (something I think all residents everywhere should have), so he always had to suck it up. His chief his last year was known to put all five calls in the first two weeks of the month if he was mad at you.

It's the system: only surviving on the backs of the residents.

10:15 AM

Blogger VitaminKMD said...

We do the best we can, we really do. We devote the majority of our lives to help the lives of others. It's not "angry", per anonymous, to want to be treated with some modicum of respect.

I hate this this still happens in medicine. Scare tactics, intimidation and veiled threats? It's not about medicine, it's about someone taking their control issues out on you.

I am so proud of my best friend. (That's you, couz) Because you are so obviously brighter and stronger than the chief. And certainly surrounded by a great deal more love.

Except you, anonymous. But then, it's your comments that challenge us, so in a way we should thank you.

11:26 AM

Anonymous Daisie said...

I really only read this to see if I ever get mentioned, and so far, nothing. Christmas is ruined. I am ever so sad.

See? Makes your little problem pale in comparison, doesn't it? ;)


6:48 PM

Blogger Fitchick said...

Anonymous is an a-hole. Sorry you're getting the shaft on this one...

9:02 PM

Anonymous shamu said...

I'd definitely be informing your union rep of the fact that this conversation with the resident asshole took place. I'd still suck up the issue, but I'd have it on record that this guy is a class-A prick.

4:58 PM

Blogger Couz said...

That's part of the problem... I AM the union rep! I mean, seriously... if you're going to break the contract, don't make the victim a union rep. That's just asking for trouble!

But I have discussed it with the union guy in charge of contract compliance. After my evaluation has been completed (whether this ongoing conflict impacts my evaluation or not) I'm going to look into filing a formal grievance. According to the union, this is a pretty clear-cut case of intimidation and harassment.


1:36 AM

Blogger Kim said...

You just answered the comment I was going to leave! This is just plain wrong all the way around. What an arrogant ass...I've met "him" many times in my career. He probably treats the nurses worse!

4:30 PM

Anonymous Charms said...

Couz, I'm so glad you're going to file a formal greivance. That kind of bullying is just unacceptable. I'd be some pissed off too! I think it's awesome that you stood up for yourself.

10:18 AM


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