You will learn to hate your pager.



The pager has gone the way of the dodo.  The only exception to this is the field of Medicine. The pager still rains supreme and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one as I entered my clinical years and again as I entered residency.

A pager embodied all the things doctoring meant to me as a naïve medical student.  I wanted a nonstop beeping, always interrupting, hip hugging pager. At that time, I thought you couldn’t be a proper, get down and dirty, saving lives for fun kind of doctor unless you had one. I couldn’t wait for all that alphanumerical joy it would bring me.

Yup, this love affair ended quickly.

I didn’t get a true sense of my pager as a clinical medical student.  At that time, I just wanted to help and be apart of the team.  Deep down I would sit and stare at my pager and think, “Please page me so I know what’s going on… Please!” I usually felt like I was impeding the residents flow and speed.  It became very apparent when things got hectic.  Teaching would take a back seat and you’d just have to tag along while work was done.  As a medical student, life is sort of like playing double-dutch.  You just wait your turn and hopefully you don’t whacked in the head.  Teaching comes, but sometimes through tag along osmosis.

Oh, then came residency.  From day one, my pager wouldn’t stop assaulting me with its beep.  I initially loved that sound it made until the pages kept coming in. Most of the pages I received were of trivial importance such as the bowel movements of my patients or a nurse letting me know that an electrolyte was only minimally below normal.  But sometimes, your patient was getting sick and you needed to respond quickly.  You couldn’t tell if it was really important or not.   Your pager was very unhelpful, it didn’t sound any different based on importance.  It only got worse and culminated during my general surgery rotation. I had a Pavlovian response to that monotone beep, Beep, BEEP.  My heart would race, my blood would boil, and my eye would twitch.

I would fantasize about how I would end my pagers life.  Should I hammer it, impale it, or just saw it in half.. so many options.  Then beep, beep, beep… back to work I went.

Now, my joy is turning off the pager after a good days work.  Ahh pager, you and I had a great love affair but I’m so glad it came to an end.  I still fantasize about how I’ll end my pagers life… is that wrong?

Beware, one day you WILL hate your pager.

Every month we will share another Med Thought.  Contact us at if you want to contribute one of your Med Thoughts. Enjoy!


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