Night Float

I’m officially a week into internship, and my first rotation just happens to be Night Float. For the uninitiated, this means that for my first month, I work from 6pm to 6am, in which I carry the pagers for about half a dozen hospital services and run around with like a chicken with my head cut off every night in order to try to keep all the patients alive until the day teams come back in the morning. During orientation, most of the upper level residents expressed their condolences when I told them that I would be starting on Nights, which did nothing to help with the anxiety of being a “doctor” for the first time.

I somehow made it through medical school without ever having to work nights (except, of course, for 24-hour call, which is of course a very different beast), so the transition has been an interesting one. I’ve gotten myself on a schedule where I go to sleep at around 7-8am, take up around 3-4pm, eat dinner, and then go to work all night. My bedroom now has tin foil all taped all over the windows so that I can sleep in the dark during the day.

As for the work itself… I have to say that I feel like I don’t know anything– simple things that I should know but somehow can’t remember when I suddenly have to apply it. I’m relying on my seniors to answer the simplest questions for me, but sometimes I feel like I haven’t learned anything. Carrying 6 pagers (each service has its own team pager) presents its own interesting challenge of trying to figure out which one went off every time I get a page. I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water, but at least I haven’t killed anyone yet, as far as I know.


I’ve managed to work myself into a horrible schedule. It goes something like this:

7:03am: This is when my first alarm goes off. I’ve set it for a little over 30 minutes before the time that I actually need to be up (which, you have to admit, is an improvement over the hour’s worth of snooze button presses that I used to require while I was in college). I think I must get some sort of masochistic satisfaction from using the snooze function over and over gain…

7:36am: Officially, I’m supposed get up at 7:35am, but somehow, it always ends up being 7:36am when I actually manage to drag my ass out of bed. I never could figure out where I keep losing that fabled extra minute– maybe somewhere in my half-awake stupor?

8:00am-5:00pm: This is the time I spend working. And by “working,” I mean “staring mindlessly at a computer screen and attempting to stay awake, all the while thinking about how awesome it will be when I can finally go home and take a nap.” I seem to muddle through somehow, though the details are quite mysterious to me.

5:14pm-6:56pm: MY GLORIOUS, BEAUTEOUS, SUBLIME, AND UNSPEAKABLY WONDERFUL NAP! …that is, until I wake up and realize that I’ve wasted the better part of 2 hours. Then I regret having taken it.

6:56-11:00pm: This is usually the time that I have to myself… dinner, work on websites, watch TV, yadda yadda.

11:00pm: This is when I start feeling guilty about not wanting to go to sleep yet.

11:30pm: This is when I really should go to sleep but don’t.

11:57am: This is when I usually finally make it to bed. I generally feel guilty for how late it is, but I console myself with the fact that: “Hey, it’s still before midnight!”

11:57am-2:00am: Tossing and turning and attempting to fall asleep. Of course, this is when I really start to regret having taken that nap earlier. There is also the occasional poking and prodding at Luke, my live-in boyfriend, because if I can’t sleep, he sure as Hell shouldn’t be able to sleep either!

~2:00am: This is about when I finally fall asleep. The cycle starts again.

The internet happens at night

I’m doing research at my school for the summer. It’s a clinical project, and most of my time is consumed in data analysis– generating graphs and muddling through Excel spreadsheets and the like. Anyway, there are 2 other students in my office who are there for the summer as well– one is an undergraduate at another school in the area, and the other is another medical student in my class. It’s an easy-going job, and we’re allowed to keep our own hours as long as we get in our requisite 40 hours each week.

What I find odd about these two other students is that, despite the flexible work schedule, they willingly get up at some unthinkably early hour in order to make it into work at 7:00am. Meanwhile, after having dragged myself out of bed at about 7:30am, I manage to haul my half-conscious self into the office at around 8:00am in an attempt not look like too much of a slacker in comparison. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being an early bird; I just find it incomprehensible.

I’ve always been a night owl and, left to my own devices, it’s not unusual for me to stay up until 4:00 or 5:00am and then to wake up at about 3:00pm the next afternoon. Most of my friends are the same way. We’re dorks, and the internet happens at night. Not that I’ve ever been a particularly social internet user, and I’ve never been able to answer satisfactorily the question: “What do you spend all that time doing?” …but that’s still the best answer I’ve ever been able to come up with.