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The First Thanksgiving. Not pictured: working physicians, nurses, and other medical staff.

Thanksgiving is an annual holiday in the United States typically held on the fourth Thursday in November, and it is marked by the presence of turkey and the absence of medical providers who are stuck working in the hospital.[1] An exception to this rule are (1) students, who are specifically sent home in order to diagnose family members; and (2) hospital administrators, who deserve a break from all that administrating.[2][3] The holiday celebrates when the Pilgrims came to North America in 1621 and were scheduled for overnight call, thus completely missing dinner with the Native Americans. The spirit of Thanksgiving is quickly forgotten the next day when everyone tries to kill one another on Black Friday.[4] A similar holiday is held on the second Monday of October in Canada.

Carving the Turkey

In the event a surgeon is able to attend Thanksgiving, he or she should never be allowed to carve the turkey; it always ends up butchered with everyone questioning the surgeon's career choice.[5] For any other medical provider who carves the turkey, there will always be that one flashback to gross anatomy. That being said, gunner medical students do get excited when they have the opportunity to be a first assist during a turkey carving.[6] Before carving the turkey, the turkey should be made NPO after midnight. During carving, general anesthesia is recommended as well as a posterior approach.

Breaking the Wishbone

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for orthopods, all of whom hate the holiday; for every broken wishbone, an orthopedic surgeon is consulted. That's a lot of wishbones to fix.[7]

The Dangers of Gravy

On November 22, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a blood-gravy content chart, not dissimilar to existing blood-alcohol content charts, warning Americans this holiday to not get behind the wheel after generous consumption of gravy.[8] It is not uncommon for the formulaic combination of tryptophan and gravy to put the majority of the United States into a deep coma until the first week of December.[9]

That Awkward Moment...

Every once in a while, a medical provider will make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. In the case of neurosurgical resident Michael Duke, who was going through hardest year of his life, he had an awkward moment when he momentarily didn't recognize one of his own children.[10]


It is not uncommon for interns to boast towards loved ones that they ran an entire hospital by themselves on Thanksgiving Day. This is false.[11]

Fun Fact

The ubiquitous turkey sandwich found in hospitals are an homage to the first Thanksgiving call in order to remember those medical providers past and present who have missed a holiday meal.

Related Reading


  1. Hospital Workers Can’t Think of Any Other Place They’d Rather Be on Thanksgiving Day (Gomerblog)
  2. Medical and Nursing Students Return Home This Thanksgiving Ready to Diagnose Their Families (Gomerblog)
  3. Bold Hospital Planning on Operating Over Thanksgiving Weekend Without Hospital Administrators (Gomerblog)
  4. ACEP Renames Black Friday “Black & Blue Friday (Gomerblog)
  5. Surgeon Struggles to Carve Turkey at Thanksgiving (Gomerblog)
  6. Med Student Excited to be First Assist for Turkey Carving This Thanksgiving (Gomerblog)
  7. Ortho Consulted to Repair Broken Wishbone (Gomerblog)
  8. CDC Issues Blood Gravy Content Chart for Thanksgiving (Gomerblog)
  9. One Week Later, Americans Finally Waking Up from Post-Prandial Thanksgiving State (Gomerblog)
  10. Neurosurgery Resident Doesn’t Recognize Own Child at Thanksgiving Dinner (Gomerblog)
  11. Internal Medicine Intern Boasts Over Thanksgiving Dinner, “I’m Basically Running the Whole Hospital” (Gomerblog)

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