Walking through the anesthesia lounge door I heard “This is not what I signed up for!”
Well this should be interesting. So of course, I naturally joined the discussion.
My colleague was upset that they had to stay late multiple times recently. Having no idea this was common while we were short staffed, my co worker said they would have taken this into consideration before accepting the job. We had both recently started and were still discovering how things worked.
During the anesthesia job interview process I learned this was a potential scenario, but how come they didn’t know it. Probing gently, I discovered it never crossed their mind to ask about how often cases run past their scheduled time and we stay late.
Understanding the schedule is critical in making your decision about a potential anesthesia job offer. And not just what your schedule is but the OR schedule. It’s key to focus a portion of the interview diving into the logistics on this topic.
And it’s easy during the interview to think you asked all the right questions. Maybe you did. But, maybe it wasn’t phrased the right way or the person you asked interpreted it differently. Maybe they gave you the wrong information (unintentionally) and sometimes things change. Remember how schedules were blown up during the height of Covid?
Before we move onto what questions to ask, it is just as important who you ask them to during the anesthesia job interview. Sure you’ll talk with the medical director and/or the scheduler, but it shouldn’t stop there. Ask multiple people in the group the exact same questions and see if the responses match up.
Also, don’t be afraid to go back and have another conversation explaining what you understand the schedule to be and see if you missed anything.
Must Ask Questions
- How many people are on call?
- On weeknights? Weekend?
- What is the call rotation?
- Is it a call from home or in house?
- How much time are you allotted to arrive at the hospital after getting called in?
- How often is the call person called in?
- Is first call off the next day? Is second call off next?
- Do you get overtime pay for working post-call?
- If not off the next day, are they sent home first?
- On average, when do they go home?
- Can call be given away?
- How are vacations picked?
- Are they picked as single days or a full week?
- How many people can be off at a time?
- How are holiday weeks selected? (Thanksgiving, Christmaas, New Years)
- How far in advance or short notice can I ask for time off?
- Is it possible and acceptable for vacation time to be swapped with colleagues?
- Do you get separate sick call time off, or is sick call taken out from vacation time?
A great way to start the conversation about the daily schedule: Please tell me about your typical day. Then you can add any of these questions as follow ups.
- What are the OR hours?
- Is anesthesia contracted to run a certain amount of rooms at specific times of the day?
- Do ORs often run late?
- Are cases scheduled on weekends?
- If not, what are the criteria for a case to be posted?
- How are emergencies handled?
- How are holidays covered?
- Leaving for the day-Is it a waterfall system, finish cases I’m assigned or will someone relieve me at a designated time?
- Will I be traveling between different facilities throughout the day?
- How many different sites/facilities can I expect to travel between on a given day?
- Are there facilities that start earlier than the usual OR start time? If so, how are you compensated for this?
- What type of schedule can I expect?
- How far in advance is the schedule made?
- Is it easy to trade days?