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Golden Weekend

There is a term coined by medical residents known as the Golden Weekend. It refers to a weekend when a resident is not on call and where you are not expected to be working. A weekend where you get Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday off.

In other words, a Golden weekend is just a regular weekend, one which most people experience four to five times a month whereas for a resident it happens maybe once a month. has an nice short post on the Golden Weekend. Only in medicine is something as mundane as a normal weekend considered a prized possession.

I’m currently having a golden weekend and enjoying it. Granted as a medical student I’m not working nearly as many hours as a typical resident. Looking back at my call schedule in clerkship, I was on call for Obsgyn (3/6) weekends,  for Internal Medicine (6/8) weekends (brutal!), and for Surgery (4/6) weekends.  In Psychiatry I was only on call 1 weekend out of 6, Pediatrics 2 out of 6 and for Family Medicine I was never on call on the weekends. My Emergency rotation always had a shift on the weekend too but I was not working weekday hours either.

After awhile, you begin to expect to work on the weekends. It can really suck at times, especially when you’re working during holidays, special events or in between rotations. People look forward to these Golden weekends so much that they will often take two shifts on the same weekend, typically a Friday and Sunday, so that they won’t have to take another weekend shift later in the month. I haven’t heard a term used for those weekends yet, but I suppose it would be a Black / Unhappy / Rusty / Hell / weekend.

So if you’re having a “golden weekend” this week or just a “normal” weekend, go out, have fun and I hope you’re enjoying it!

Additional thoughts – Which weekend day is best for being on call?

  1. Friday – having call on Friday is like having a normal weekday + roughly 12 or more hours on top. Your Saturday morning/afternoons are usually wasted catching up on sleep, but at least you have Saturday evening and Sunday to relax.
  2. Sunday – nobody wants to be in the hospital in the early morning on Sunday, at least you get Monday off to be post-call.
  3. Saturday – you finish work on Friday and roughly 12 hours later you’re expected to be in the hospital for another 24+ hours. Your Sunday is wasted recuperating and by the time you wake up, you just want to rest because Monday is just around the corner.
  4. Friday + Sunday – an absolutely tiring weekend, You finish your Friday call, sleep and then wake up just to feel miserable because you’re on call the next day. The worst part is you would not have gotten any rest before your next week of work. By the time the next Friday rolls around, you would have worked roughly 12 days in a row. Gross.
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  1. Jeremiah
    Jeremiah June 11, 2011

    You can add some areas of tech to the “Full weekend” being a special thing. Between project cycles and releases I end up working a lot of weekends. Albeit, it is usually pretty low key.

  2. Med School Odyssey
    Med School Odyssey June 11, 2011

    Indeed. Many high-level engineers work 7 days a week. Virtually everyone I know in any sort of management position works every weekend.

    I think the difference is that it isn’t a full shift and there is usually a specific reason for it. In medicine, a lot of crap is done simply because that’s how it’s always been and because of the food-chain mentality that says, “Since I suffered during residency, hence thou must suffer”.

    • medaholic
      medaholic June 12, 2011

      I agree, lots of people work 6-7 days a week. I think what makes it different is a few things.
      1) When you’re on call, you can be up for 26-30 hours where you are actually doing stuff. It can be busy enough that you might miss a meal and not get any sleep. The physiological stress on your body is pretty hard, especially when you don’t really have a “post-call’ day to recover.
      2) The hospital operates 24/7, so it’s not really that there isn’t a specific reason, it’s the fact that medical students/residents are cheap labour that can staff the hospital at undesirable times.
      3) For some services, it’s in-hospital. You can’t work from home, you can’t go home halfway during your call shift to pick up dinner, you are bound to the hospital, by that invisible leash known as the pager

  3. Josh
    Josh June 12, 2011

    Yikes. I don’t think the rules here allow clerks (or residents) to be on call (“on average”) more than 1 in 3 weekends, which includes all the permutations you mention. I’ve done only 5 weekends since January (admittedly including 6 weeks of family with little if any call).

    Generally I like the Fri/Sun combo best since it gets a big chunk of call over with all at once. Tiring, yes, but doable.

    • medaholic
      medaholic June 12, 2011

      I think mileage may vary depending on how many residents/students are on that rotation with you. I think my call schedules has probably had more call than some other students.

      Fri/Sun combo is tiring, but I’d rather have one weekend completely lost than two partially lost.

  4. […] on that day. Once a month, I actually get BOTH Saturday and Sunday off. I look forward to this golden weekend like a child in a candy store but it’s over before I know it. I mean to really get a break, a […]

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