Help residents cope with being on call during the holidays

Residency Program Insider, December 17, 2020

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Editor's note: The following is an edited excerpt from a Residency Program Alert (RPA) article. For more information about subscribing to RPA, visit  

Program coordinators often find themselves acting as sounding boards for the frustrations residents are facing, and also as people residents can talk to and trust with their personal feelings. This is a very important role during the holidays. Residents face the inevitability that at some point they will be on call and not able to enjoy the holidays with their family and friends.

None of us want to work during the holidays. However, there are occasions throughout life where everyone will face disappointment and frustration. It’s how you deal with those situations that determine whether you allow yourself to accept the facts and find a way to make things okay.

Sometimes a simple change of perspective can make all the difference. Remind residents that having to work in a hospital on a holiday is much better than being a patient in a hospital on a holiday. Residents get to leave after their shift; patients don’t.

Reminding residents that giving of themselves to others is also a surefire way to help them feel better about their situation. Helping someone in need is a reminder that things can always be worse. Caring for patients, showing true concern, and being present on a day when everyone wants to be somewhere other than in a hospital is a great opportunity to do just that.


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