On certain specialty services during intern year, we would have to answer pages from outpatients. In which case, we'd generally serve the role of a secretary, except even more useless:
Operator: "Doctor, I have a patient on hold to talk to you."
Me: "Okay, put them through."
Patient: "Doctor, I had chemotherapy a few days ago and ever since, I've been having hiccups. It's really bothering me."
[conversation follows about hiccups]
Me: "Okay, let me ask my attending about this."
I page my attending, Dr. Lazy, then wait for him to return the page
Dr. Lazy: "Well, if he's having hiccups, we can giving him some thorazine. Can you write outpatient prescriptions yet?"
Dr. Lazy: "Then I'll call in the prescription. Call the patient and ask where they want the prescription sent to and then call me back."
I call patient back.
Me: "We can give you some thorazine for the hiccups. Where do you want the prescription? A pharmacy or at the hospital?"
Patient: "I'll just pick it up at the hospital."
I page Dr. Lazy and wait for him to return the page.
Me: "The patient wants to pick up the script at the hospital."
Dr. Lazy: "Okay, I'll call it in."
So this was (count 'em) four phone calls dedicated to a patient with hiccups. What a freakin’ waste of time. But then again, it’s obviously more important to save five minutes of an attending’s time than to save an hour of an intern’s time.