Good things about shift system


I was quite antagonistic towards shift system earlier, but lately I found that shift system did me some good. Not in terms of personal only, but in terms of clinical as well. How come? I thought on-call was much better… Here’s why.

With shift system I work more frequently – I am currently in ortho department. During the heydays of its oncall system, a houseman in orthopedic department did 3-4 calls only in one month. With this shift system, a houseman must do 8 shifts in one months. Yes it might be equivalent to 4 oncalls only, but it’s different in so many ways.

Firstly, in ortho department a houseman covers the wards, A&E, local anesthesia OT, general anesthesia OT. With the shift system, I am forced to be here and there. This week I can be in OT and ward, next week in A&E. So I have more exposure in every parts of orthopedic, thus learn a little bit more about everything. Previously with oncall, a houseman in orthopedic only did one weekend call with three weekends off. With this shift system, I work every weekend! Yes it’s tiring, but I must admit I learn quite a lot during weekend rounds when only 2 houseman covers one ward (compared to 5 houseman on weekdays!)

Secondly, the shift system is busier than oncall. When I was in medical, a very busy department, I managed to sleep at least 4 hours, at some time even 6 hours! Why? Because I have four other colleagues doing calls with me in the ward. Shift system forces a houseman to work independently and settle all works at one period of the shift. Thus we see more patients during the shift. There are lots of in-between rest times during oncalls, but not the same can be said about shift system. During oncalls we do long hours but we share workloads with colleagues. On the other hand, shift system gives more workloads at a shorter period of time. Long hours spent working are useless if we don’t see enough patients.

Thirdly, shift system gives more resting time, personal time, family time. It is said that houseman can better cope with stress, and better for those who are about to start families. I realized I have a bit more time to read about medicine as well.

Yes, specialists always complain that houseman not getting enough exposure. There’s no way around it. We have too many houseman nowadays. If we are forced to do more oncalls, we have fewer patients to see as we do calls with a few more colleagues. If we are doing shift system, we see more patients although at a shorter period of time. Either way, oncall or shift, the exposure to different types of patients and cases is going to be less than when these specialists had during their good old days.

As I said there’s no way around it. Compromise must be made. I do enjoy seeing more patients at one short period of time and knowing that I can go home relatively early once I finish all my work at the end of my shift.

So, it’s not all bad about the shift system though… The specialist who suggested the shift system was talking about all the advantages I mentioned above, and all these advantages are indeed true.

The bad things about shift system such as crappy pass-overs and work not finished can be settled with more supervision from the bosses. In the end, it all depends on how the houseman is willing to learn.

Haha I am just finding positivities in everything since there’s possibly no turning back from this shift system. But I still like doing on-calls though.

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