Tips for intern year: paging edition
Paging etiquette is likely different from institution to institution, but here are a couple of tips that I generally learned the hard way.
(1) If at all possible, return your pages within five minutes. Sometimes that just means giving the receiving party a quick “hey, I’ll have to get to this later” return call. You will build a reputation with nurses based on how well you do this. I know for a fact that I get cut tremendous slack if I happen to take >5 mins to return or respond to a page based on the fact that I rarely do so.
(2) Carefully enter your callback number. Quickest way to piss off a consultant is to give them a wrong number to call with no ability to get back with you. This is one reason why I always include my pager number as well. Just in case. It’s saved my butt on a few careless incidences.
(3) Stay by your contact number phone for at least 15 minutes. And try not to double page people to the same number. Law of averages says they’ll both call at the same time and you’ll irritate one of them.
(4) When paging consultants, sometimes it’s nice to know the question up-front. Today I took a consult from an intern that was as horrific and scattered as a three day intern should be. But he knocked a home run by giving me the patient’s MRN and question up front. By the time I called him I already had a good idea of what was going on so it really didn’t matter what he said.
(5) If you’re paging someone, give them a little bit of time before sending a second page. No one likes to be hammer paged. My own personal rule is 30-45 minutes for non-surgical services and 45-60 minutes for surgical services. Remember sometimes the surgical services are balancing consults and the OR.
(6) It’s okay to not check your pager if you’re trying to take a dump or pee. Seriously. You’re allowed to have bowel and bladder functions. Even the surgeons. Unless you need some serious fiber in your diet or you have some raging BPH, it’s going to be a <5 min delay. It’s fine.