Salle de garde

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Entrance to the salle de garde of the “Hôpital de la Salpêtrière”, Paris . December 2001.

The term salle de garde describes an on-call service room or guard room and is a locked place in a hospital in France , where people stay during their on-call duty . Today, the interns and their guests are here , visiting these rooms dedicated to meals, tranquility and relaxation. These rooms are a central place in the life of the assistant doctors, they are the expression and characteristic of the French medical school and describe the mental attitude and the rituals that prevail in these places.


The lounge appeared from the 11th century in the city and church hospitals, in which the body of the bathers slowly developed as surgeons who gradually took over the management of the hospital. In contrast to their assistants, the later doctors, who do not live in the hospital, the bathers live and spend the night there and change their clothing in these halls, they receive rooms, dining rooms and kitchens at the expense of the hospital: the 'Salles de Garde'. With the creation of the medical "boarding school" at the beginning of the XIX. Century the life of the "internal" takes possession of the common rooms. The common room also reflects the customs of brotherhoods and worker-journeyman associations (stonemasons, carpenters, etc.) as well as the rituals of the table of the Freemasons.

The boarding school

1802, 4 Ventose an X (February 23, 1802) the "boarding school" was founded in Paris by a petition to the minister at the time, Jean-Antoine Chaptal . The “boarding school” is the building where the hospital's interns live. At the moment, the “interns” live less often in the hospital, rather a building in the clinic is reserved for this use (the term “internally” means a “doctor / pharmacist who lives in the hospital”). In France, since 1802, depending on their grades, the “interns” from national competitions (the medical boarding school, which has now been replaced by the graded national examination (ECN examen national classant) or the examination in pharmacy) have been placed in a university hospital (CHU).

The lounge is the place where the “internal” (the resident doctors on duty) eat (a kind of cafeteria) and invite their guests, who either come from “fossils” (hospital managers and practitioners of the hospital) or external “dinosaurs” (those on duty University heads and practitioners hospital professors). The halls are characterized by a lively atmosphere and are often adorned with suggestive frescoes. These caricature the heads and members of the clinic. Even if the “boarding schools” were not established until 1802, certain traditions (designation “carabin, carabines” for a medical student and his girlfriend) are much older and partly date from the time the University of Montpellier was founded in the 11th century. The “salle de garde” is administered by a group of students who are elected at the beginning of the semester and who can be “overthrown” at any time by the “guests”.

Hall rules

The doctors who have lunch in the halls form groups and discuss only medicine. You have established a few rules. Any violation of these rules can be subject to a "penalty".

The guests install themselves in the order of their arrival in an "arrangement of five" (the boards form a U). No position may be left blank. This way, all doctors at the hospital get to know each other.

The newcomers greet all guests with a pat on the back before they sit down. It is forbidden to get up from the table without the approval of the Administrative Director. It is forbidden to smoke before the coffee is on the table. There are no napkins (you wipe yourself on the tablecloth). Clapping is forbidden, the rules of "drumming" apply. The use of the corkscrew is forbidden in the hall: all bottles are cut off (opened) with a table knife. Applause is prohibited. These rules no longer apply and the power of the student self-government present ends when the coffee is served. The external and guests cannot be subject to a “penalty” (the “internal” pays them).

The drumming

A funny remark or an accurate response in a discussion at the table is answered immediately by having the students drum a set rhythm out loud on the table. The oldest rhythms are the "Royale" and the "Peripherique". They date from the 18th century and were mainly used in Paris to call the doctors in the hospital to the patients and give them the approximate direction in the city (Place Royale or Periferique) with the rhythm.

The spirit of the halls

The halls are a space of freedom and creativity. Everything is allowed here that does not violate the above rules. The "interns" can make fun of their leaders on duty with impunity and lewd songs are the order of the day. The striking wall painting (frescoes), which very often make a superior of the assistant doctors the topic, are typical for the decoration of the halls.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The drumming