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Are doctors the ones they don’t want in a ‘secret Santa’?

But maybe we should spare a thought for those who have the task of buying a gift for the doctor in their life. Hastily cobbled-together research by the Dorsal View indicates that when it comes to buying a gift for the physician, it can lead to anxiety and no small amount of hand-wringing.

Here’s an extract from one worried blogger, ‘Generous in Greensboro, “my co-workers and I are trying to agree on what to get the doctor for Christmas. It seems we go through this every year… my feeling is that the doctor is accustomed to receiving higher-priced gifts. I don’t think he would appreciate something cheap… It’s difficult to buy a gift for someone who can have almost anything he wants.” Indeed?!

Such insights into the gift-buying process are interesting; if you’re an NCHD, your second-most desired gift after a plane ticket to Australia or Canada would probably be a decent night’s sleep, or even a couple of hours in between shifts.

To this end, the buyer might want to consider a white-noise machine, available from various Internet outlets. It’s often said that a hospital is like a casino — it never sleeps and gives the illusion of noon 24 hours a day. If you use ear plugs during those nights on-call, you might miss that pager. But using the white noise machine at the door masks those distracting noises and these gadgets are portable enough to throw into an overnight bag.

If you prefer silence, Bose noise-cancelling headphones come highly recommended. While they do not eliminate outside noise entirely, they substantially reduce it, enough to enable a decent sleep.

Or to keep it more simple, the buyer could be directed to for a box of anatomically-correct chocolates. The nine-piece ‘Organ Box’ is a snip at around €20 and spleens, lungs and hearts will never have tasted so good.

To turn the tables, perhaps you have staff and are stumped as to what to buy them for Christmas? Cash is always welcome of course, or, like this doctor who was asked by, you might find a more creative solution: “I give each of them [clinic staff] a gag gift based on something they did during the previous year.

“For example, my hygienist ran over her purse with the car. So, I went to Goodwill and bought a tacky purse and dress. I ran over them with my car and presented her with a whole new ensemble.”

Smarter phones

But if you’re thinking of buying a high-price smartphone with all the bells and whistles for someone this Christmas, you may want to read on.

For those of us who have always suspected that the older, clunkier mobile phones actually provide better signal performance than a smartphone packed with high-tech features, Ofcom has released some research that may be of interest.

The UK industry regulator commissioned a study into this very subject and found that a cheap handset typically provides superior signal performance for voice calls and texts than that €400 smartphone you’ve been coveting.

The study was performed in controlled laboratory conditions and found that cheaper, 2G network handsets were far better at picking up weak signals. In fact, some of the most popular smartphones need a signal a minimum of 10 times stronger than the best ‘non-smart’ mobile before they can make or take a call.

The research addresses claims raised, particularly by those living and working in rural areas, that glass-encased smartphones rather than plastic have contributed to being so frequently cut-off during calls. The regulator found that smartphones often need a 2G signal at least seven times stronger than the bog-standard plastic handset.

Further, Ofcom found that with smartphones, the chances of you being cut off can vary significantly, depending on whether you hold it in the right or left hand. This is due to the position of the antenna, according to the regulator.

The study was done with a view to contributing to better coverage maps, but could have real significance for doctors on the move, where missing a call or being cut off can of course have serious consequences.

Perhaps it’s time to have two phones — the smartphone for recreation, and the cheap plastic one to make sure you get those important calls from the clinic or hospital.

The pun is mightier…

One occupational hazard of Christmas is undoubtedly the dreaded Christmas cracker jokes. The addition of a nice wine to the Christmas dinner table may make these more palatable, but here are a few of the better ones:

  • What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney? Claustrophobia.
  • Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor? Because he had  low elf-esteem.
  • What happened to the man who stole an advent calendar? He got 25 days.
  • How did Scrooge win the football game? The ghost of Christmas passed.
  • How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas? One that’s deep-pan, crisp and even.
  • What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinsilitis.
  • And saving the worst for last: What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
  • Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.
  • Here’s wishing all Dorsal View readers a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

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