As clerks, we have big groups of 19-20 who go on the same rotation. At the moment, we Group A are rotating in Surgery. Within our big group, we also have small groups of 6-7, who fall under the same service. I am currently on GS2, and I with six other co-clerks have the same senior residents, manage the same patients, and most importantly, have the same duty status.
In any given day, we are on either “pre-duty”, “duty’, or “from-duty’ status. This post is an attempt to explain what that means, so our family and friends can understand what our schedule as a medical clerk is like. This is also for aspiring med students and future clerks, to help you understand what you are getting yourself into. Haha! 🙂
To illustrate better, I’ll use a random date like September 28, Monday. My status then was “pre”. Every time we are on pre-duty, we have to be at the hospital at 6:30 AM, sign the attendance, and do whatever task is assigned for those on “pre” status.
Usually, that includes manning the out-patient department, scrubbing-in and assisting in the major operations scheduled before 2:00 PM, or helping out in the minor operations.
Sign out is at 5:00 PM that same day. After that, we are free to do whatever we want! That means if you want to meet up for dinner or drinks, I’d have a lot of energy if I am on “pre” status that day. But I can’t stay out too late because the next day, I’ll be on duty..
Let’s say it’s now September 29, Tuesday. Since I was “pre” yesterday, I’ll be on “duty” today. When we are on duty, sign in is still at 6:30 am, and sign out is still at 5:00 PM – THE NEXT DAY!
While on duty, we serve different posts, depending on where we are assigned for that night – 1) Wards (in charge of carrying out all the chart orders of admitted patient), 2) SICU (in charge of patient monitoring), 3) emergency room, and 4) operating room. I’ll do a separate post to write more about the tasks assigned to us per post.
Technically, our duty status ends at 6:30 AM the next day. However, sign out will be at 5:00 PM because we still have to serve our “from” status.
It’s now September 30, Wednesday. New clerks from other groups have already arrived fresh and ready, while those of us who went on duty the night before are still rushing to get our morning carry outs in order. We are going to continue are shift and serve our “from” status!
If you see a clerk roaming the halls with a shiny forehead, messy hair, blood-stained uniform, and zombie-like gait – he or she is probably already “from”. Hence, the joke “from na from ka na sa itsura mo“.
Around this time, most of us will be hungry, tired, sleepy, stinky, irate, and sabaw, but that’s never an excuse to not step up and get the job done. At 5:00 PM, or until all our tasks are done (whichever comes first), we finally get to go home!
Weekends and Holidays
Inevitably, our “pre” or “from” status will fall on a Saturday, Sunday, a suspended day due to the weather, or a non-working holiday; so the only ones who have to go to the hospital are the ones on duty!
So if I am “pre” on Friday, I have to go on duty on Saturday, and go home at 8 am (instead of 5 pm) on Sunday because I don’t have to serve my from status anymore.
Likewise, if I am duty on Friday, I have the whole weekend off on Saturday and Sunday because I don’t have to serve my “from” on Saturday and “pre” on Sunday. I go back to the hospital on Monday on a duty status, once again.
As fate would have it, I will be serving a duty status on the following holidays – November 1, December 25, January 31, even February 14! This is what we call a “skeletal duty“, because we are the only ones in the hospital and so we also have to assume the tasks of the “pre” and “from” clerks, if there are any.
If you have a loved one who is currently a clerk, I hope this post helps you understand us better when we miss birthday dinners, or when we go home and go straight to our beds in a coma-status. If you are an aspiring med student or a future clerk in a public hospital such as ours, I do not mean to discourage you! Hehehe.
Our schedule may sound grueling and physically impossible, but I’d like to believe it’s part of our training, and I will never complain about it. I still love being a clerk, and halfway into it, I’ll admit – the hospital is already becoming my second home!