Circadian Flip

You wanna know why I like night shifts in the hospital so much?

I like them because the overall environment in the hospital is relatively more chill than in the daytime, you have a lot more flexibility in what you spend your time doing during your shift, you have more independence in making clinical decisions for your patients, you have more time to think through the decisions that you're making for both the patients that you admit and the already admitted patients that you're caring for on the floor, you have more time to spend teaching others on your clinical team some useful medical knowledge, and you get to spend some quality time with the other night-owl residents who happen to be stuck in the hospital with you.

As you can see, there's a lot to like about working the night shift. In fact, the only thing I hate about it is that I have to completely flip my circadian rhythm upside-down to be able to work during the night. (That and the food options in the hospital at night absolutely suck.) As a result of working during the time period that the vast majority of the country is asleep, I end up missing out on a lot of events that occur during the daytime and also end up being late on daily updates occurring in the world around me that I would have otherwise been privy to. At the same time though, there's a level of peace at night that is unparalleled, as long as your pager or Epic chat isn't going off every few minutes.

I've spent the majority of my time between my last post and this post working nights in the hospital (15 nights to be exact), and most of it was certainly a whirlwind of activity. It was actually the longest stretch of night shifts that I've ever completed in a row, and while it was a fruitful educational experience, I certainly do not want to ever be working night shifts for a period of time that long ever again. It was such a long stretch that various people (residents, attendings, nurses, etc.) started asking me why I was still on nights (especially during my last week), as if I had a choice to switch back to day shift whenever I wanted to. You know something ain't right if people are remarking on you being in the hospital just about every night for almost a month straight lol. Don't even get me started on post-call rounding the morning after a night shift; that's when you REALLY start to confuse people. 😂

All in all though, those three weeks on nights were an overall positive experience. Having such a strong and able team with a positive attitude really made a difference during those long 14-hour shifts. Everyone I worked with, from the medical students and interns, to the attendings, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and other workers on the care team, were so helpful, engaging and willing to put the work in to care for the barrage of kids that we cared for each and every night. We admitted so many kids the first two weeks that our hospital eventually filled up, hindering our ability to admit any new patients during my last week on night call. That being said, there were many nights where our patients needed rapid assessments due to their deteriorating clinical status, so we tended to be busy even on the nights where we weren't admitting a lot of kids. We did have a few nights that were relatively chill, where we were able to fit in a lot of medical education, watch some great football/basketball games, and just vibe out with each other. We even organized a Thanksgiving potluck so that we could enjoy a delicious meal together even though we were all working in the hospital that night!

Working nights was not a bad experience at all, but I sure am glad to be on a regular daytime schedule again. I recently switched back to days earlier this week and have been working as a senior resident on an inpatient sub-specialty service that cares for patients with conditions primarily affecting their cardiac and GI systems. As per usual, the two interns that I'm working with are superstars, which always makes work a more enjoyable experience. The patients that we're caring for are quite complex as well, which makes caring for them and their families an experience that is both intellectually stimulating and fulfilling. I'll be spending the next two weeks on this service (including Christmas 😭) and then will finally get another week of hard-earned vacation for New Year's, which I'm so looking forward to!

One other thing I want to mention before wrapping this post up (yeah I'm not writing a novel today, shocking I know 😂) is that I got an awesome opportunity last month to serve as a panelist at the RARE Health Equity Summit, a hybrid conference hosted by Global Genes! The session I participated in was called Reducing RARE Health System Biases, where we discussed the enormous impact that bias has on the care being delivered to the patients we serve within our healthcare systems and how to address these biases, with specific focus on patients from marginalized communities who have been diagnosed with rare conditions. It was a really cool and engaging experience, and I'm thankful that Global Genes allowed me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with the attendees at the conference!

Man, I can't believe that we're about to wrap up yet another year on this planet! This year was hands-down so much better than 2020, though we certainly have a lot of room for improvement as we march along into 2022! Can't wait to type up my annual end-of-the-year post in a few weeks, I've got quite a bit to say! 😄

I hope you all have a fantastic and sensational holiday season!!

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – We are currently accepting contributions to The 2022 Desire To Inspire Scholarship Fund! Click here to donate a few dollars to the initiative! You're only a couple of clicks away from being a hero and making a huge impact on a young scholar's life!

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