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Paying Dues: What It Means to be ‘On-Call’

The first time I was on call left me disappointed. I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to experience all the action and have those fabulous stories of which junior and senior medical students bragged. My night was quiet. A ‘Rites of Passage’ in third and fourth year of medical school is being ‘on call.’ While my first on-call experience was not action-oriented, I certainly liked the idea of paying my dues as a medical student.

I know what it means to be sleep-deprived and shower-craving. The wrinkled clothing, the messy hair, and the dark circles under both eyes, are badges of honor. Being ‘on-call means’ no strenuous activity the day after the all night training session. My subsequent on-call adventures left me scolding myself for not appreciating the silence of my first on-call experience. Some of my most critical learning experiences came in the Intensive Care Unit at 2:30AM while I was on-call.  I proudly wear my badges of honor and I also can say that I have sampled every flavor of energy drink on the market.

 by Chinwe Okeke, Class of 2011