I'm sure in the near future, communication with physicians will take place through iPhones, and that will be an eventual segue into communication via, like, microchips in the brain. But for the time being, I still have a pager.
In medical school, I had to pay for my own pager while I was at the university hospital. We had to rent it through some company, and I was SO excited to have my very own pager. I think I got five pages the whole year and most of those were joke pages from friends paging me to 911 or something.
When I was at the community hospital, they provided us with text pagers. I got a good amount of pages, although the vast majority were mass text messages telling me about a conference I was already at, or saying, "This is a test."
It wasn't until intern year that I got a genuine pager (sometimes two) that I hated with every fiber of my being.
Most pagers these days can be set to a variety of different alarm sounds. I would cycle through them, trying to find the least objectionable. There was the standard loud and annoying beep, which made me sick to my stomach. There was a muted version of this, which I couldn't always hear. There was vibration mode, which I never ever heard.
A lot of residents chose to set their pager alarms to different tunes. Some of these were recognizable songs. One resident had her alarm set to the Godfather theme and one to the theme music from Love Story. But the most baffling thing to me was that several residents set their pager alarm to sound like the Happy Birthday song.
I guess the logic is that the Happy Birthday song evokes good memories, so perhaps making your alarm sound like that will make getting pages less unpleasant. However, I think it's just the opposite. I think the unpleasantness of getting paged all the freaking time for years on end would overwhelm any happy memories from the birthday song.
I just imagine a large group of physicians who now feel physically ill every time they're at a birthday party.
I usually opted for an unrecognizable tune or the loud, annoying beep. I figured that the pages were annoying already, so may as well have the sound be annoying.
These days I allow my pager to make a more muted beeping sound. I still jump and feel ill whenever I hear my pager go off, although generally the only times I get paged are the happy occasions when a surgeon finally decides to return my call. I wonder if I'll ever lose that Pavlovian response?