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What's it like to work nights?

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  • #16
    I worked nights in residency for a single 3-month period. 6 nights a week (Sunday night through Saturday AM), 6PM to 8AM, for 3 months. It wasn't so bad, but I was obviously younger back then. That said, a nine hour shift, 7 days on and 14 off, to keep your salary as it is now, plus picking up some days shifts here and there for a little extra? What are you currently working? 7 on 7 off? Something different? I would personally do it in heartbeat.

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    • #17
      Fine if single, but nights are tough on the family

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      • #18
        Ceteris paribus, I love it, especially when it pays more. You can actually enjoy your daylight while working nights instead of being stuck indoors. If things are slow-ish, our hospital has a gym, and the salad bar is open at night. Plus, my son's in daycare all day, so I can go to bed in the morning and not worry about waking up to an alarm in the afternoon. I can also get things done during the week with businesses that are only open during the day, like getting car fixed, etc (though that comes out of sleep time). I love running in the morning since it's 100 degrees in the summer where I live. Lack of ancillary support and having to worry about waking up consultants if things are needed emergently isn't great, though.

        But...life doesn't exist ceteris paribus. I barely see my family. In fact, I've got a stretch of nights coming up in which my wife is taking our son to Maui for a "CME" vacation. Also when the house cleaners come or there's an appointment that has to be done, it comes out of my sleep.

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        • #19
          Work nights only in the ED.  LOVE IT.  Have been doing it for about 2 1/2 years solely now.  Prior to that I even enjoyed nights.  And I'm in my early 40s and still do just fine with it.

          Like the previous all night doc commented, I am also a bit of a night owl and always have been.  With that said, if the thought of working at night sounds horrible or you have never thrived being up late (i.e., love to be in bed by 9 or 10 pm) then it may not be for you.  Most of the naysayers on nights, don't speak from experience and go about it all wrong. I often explain to others in my group, try working all day after sleeping 3-4 hours at night.  So why do you think sleeping 3-4 hours during the daytime, then being up all night will work?  I sleep wonderfully during the day and usually at LEAST 6.5 hours, usually 7-8 and feel great.

          In regards to being tougher on family, I completely DISAGREE.  My kids totally understand my schedule.  Before I would work all over the map and I felt like my kids never knew if I was coming or going.  Now I come in while they are having breakfast or getting ready for school.  I sleep while they are gone, and then am up in the later afternoon and around for dinner and playtimes.  Work out at night before work, after the kids are in bed.   I also have twins that are 4 months and this is going great.  Days off, I too tend to stay nocturnal so my wife gets to sleep.

          Specifics to my situation and to echo some of what was said:

          - Im ED.  Like Hatton1 said, yes it would be tough to do a night then have clinic all day.

          - My set up lets me get first dibs at schedule. I usually work 3 sometimes 4 a week then off the rest.  (the pay differential, lets me work 2 days less per month and my income stays the same). I would say 6 or 7 in a row I get kinda grumpy, but this isn't a night thing, its an ER thing.  Ask any ER doc to work 6 or 7 days in a row and we are all climbing the walls.  IF you think you wouldn't mind the 7 days a week thing then it may be good for you.

          - Yes some logistics are a little harder at night.  The one to keep in mind is EMR downtimes are usually after hours and this can be painful.

           

          Bottom line: for some all nights is great (and for those who hate nights, they love people like us!).  If you tend to be a night owl it may be a good thing.  Give it a shot.  A couple tips: dark sleep room, and white noise!!

           

          Good luck.

           

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          • #20
            I notice that squirrel posted at 2 am!  I tend to get up really early at 3-4am.  I use the quiet time to read and exercise.  Everybody is set up differently. I will repeat that the killer is working all night and then having to work the next day.

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            • #21
              When I'd work 3 or 4 eight-hour shifts, it was nothing. Problem is when it's 6 12s. I can take my son in the morning, but have to be at work before my wife gets home, so she has to get him. All I get is the half-hour or so to wake him up, dress him, eat breakfast, and drop him off. It is very possible and reasonable for a person to have a night working schedule that's fine on the family, but it requires the rest of the variables to line up.

              If I can get a favorable night schedule when my contract is up, I will very strongly consider it if my family's schedules allow. In *my* particular scenario with a working spouse and young children not yet in school, though, I don't think it's likely for *me.* I'd recommend taking it at face value and try not to wade too far into the current with anecdotes (mine included)...

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              • #22
                I did night teleradiology 7on/7off about 3 years ago, being around age 40 and with a family. With the schedule you propose, I'm thinking you might be radiology as well, as I have seen some 7 on/ 14 off jobs posted in the past.

                The best advice I can give is be honest with yourself - are you are night person or not? As others who have weighed in, that is the most important thing. I convinced myself I would be fine - heck we all did it in residency... I took the job during the bottom of the radiology job market partly out of necessity and not wanting to move.

                But I felt terrible all the time. I lost weight and looked pasty white all the time. I would wake up on my "off weeks" at 3 am as if it was the middle of the day, sweating, even when I had stayed up as late as I could muster. Then I was spacey during the day. Although I had all that "time off", I really didn't feel good until at least 5 days went by - some suggest staying "on nights" all the time, but with kids that just wasn't going to happen. I was a physiologic mess.  My wife was worried about me all the time. We were able to carve out an OK schedule, but in the end it was a bad decision. Other "night-owls" had warned me, but I figured I could make it.

                Anyway, it all worked out as I went back to a regular hospital job and still do part-time telerad, but never take shifts later than midnight. I learned my lesson. I have friends who work overnight and have do so for years, but I just couldn't do it.

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                • #23
                  When my wife works nights, complaints seem to be the same as others describe here.  Exhausted, odd patient population, frequently a bottom tier of nurses and other staff, family doesn't understand, baby certainly doesn't, etc.  Her program gives five days off for post-call but IMO it's not really worth it.

                  One of my buddies is a night-shift newswriter and it messes with his life tremendously.  But as with anything, you can adapt and overcome

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                  • #24
                    If you are already a night owl, and your family is able to accomodate your daytime sleep schedule, then working nights can be very good. If you aren't, I don't recommend trying to force it. The key is whether you are able to maintain a sufficient sleep schedule when you are home during the day. If not, it will end up burning you out.

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                    • #25
                      People get paid more for night work. There is a reason.

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                      • #26
                        I work both days and nights. As a resident, I worked a couple weeks of nights only, which is what the OP is asking about. I didn't like it much, but if that's all you ever did, there are some benefits. It's generally quieter, the pace of work will tend to be slower, and you might actually catch some Z's.

                        The cons, on the other hand, have been covered fairly well. I've never gotten used to the middle of the night pages. A simple question has me up for an hour. Granted, most pages have me coming in to do work, but in any case, the shrill chirp of the beeper will haunt me well into my octogenarian days.

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                        • #27




                          I work both days and nights. As a resident, I worked a couple weeks of nights only, which is what the OP is asking about. I didn’t like it much, but if that’s all you ever did, there are some benefits. It’s generally quieter, the pace of work will tend to be slower, and you might actually catch some Z’s.

                          The cons, on the other hand, have been covered fairly well. I’ve never gotten used to the middle of the night pages. A simple question has me up for an hour. Granted, most pages have me coming in to do work, but in any case, the shrill chirp of the beeper will haunt me well into my octogenarian days.
                          Click to expand...


                          Pager PTSD...I almost have a panic attack every time I hear a pager that sounds like the one I used in residency.

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                          • #28
                            I've been working a mix of nights and evening shifts for my group for the last couple of months and the work itself has been pleasant.  I enjoy staying up late and the work is quieter overall which I certainly appreciate.  HOWEVER, I absolutely hate the screwed up sleep pattern it causes.  I don't want to be on a night schedule on my days off and its very difficult to transition back to a semi-normal sleep pattern.  It results in me feeling tired all the time.  It only takes 2 nights for me to be on a fully night time schedule and transitioning back to days can take several days after.  The next couple of months I'm only doing 1 night per week so I'm hoping it won't screw up my schedule as much.  We shall see!

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                            • #29
                              I used to work all nights my first 3 years out of EM residency (differential pay and no kids then). You do get a big share of the drunk/disorderly patients and not to mention the psych patients. Once the kids are born then working all night shifts stopped making sense. Dark room and white noise won't prevent your young kids from coming to your room to play unless you lock it! I still work about 3 overnight shifts/month which I still enjoy.

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                              • #30




                                I used to work all nights my first 3 years out of EM residency (differential pay and no kids then). You do get a big share of the drunk/disorderly patients and not to mention the psych patients. Once the kids are born then working all night shifts stopped making sense. Dark room and white noise won’t prevent your young kids from coming to your room to play unless you lock it! I still work about 3 overnight shifts/month which I still enjoy.
                                Click to expand...


                                Your kids can't pick your lock? Even my 18 month old can pull up and down on the handle until I wake up. Nothing worse than being between night shifts on a weekend. You will not get 8 hours. Guaranteed.
                                Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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