Jul 03

Day in the Life: Inpatient Service Night Float

Hello and welcome to another Medical Mondays! What is night float, you ask? It probably varies per program, but for ours, it means we do 2 weeks of night shift (Sunday night to Thursday night) instead of having a random night shift every couple days!

This was the first time I was ever on nights (and how fitting that it occurred as my very last rotation of intern year?!). Thankfully, I wasn’t alone! At the beginning of the week, my senior resident imparted these pearls of wisdom with me:

  • “Waves” of admissions usually occur around signout (6-7 pm), 9pm, 11pm.
  • Try to get some sleep between 9-11 pm if possible, or whenever possible.
  • Try to get lists printed at ~5am.
  • Check AM vitals for signout w/ day team.
  • Check vitals, labs, notes from consults.

“Why am I telling you all of this now? It’s because I’m about to try to take a nap. But if you need anything, I’ll be in the next room! Don’t feel bad if you need to wake me up!”

Day in the Life: Inpatient Service Night Float

day in the life: night float

6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

The day team stops taking admissions after about 5:15 p.m. unless it’s Wednesday/Friday when we have morning report. (We’re supposed to have a 10-hour break in between shifts so sign-out usually starts later on those days since we finish later due to morning report from 7-8.

In any case, we’d usually come in by 6 p.m. to find out what happened to our patients during the day, the things that got done, things that need to be followed up on, what to be on the lookout for during the night (especially for our more unstable patients).

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Unless we had a bunch of admissions that came in during sign-out time (which unfortunately does happen fairly frequently), we’d usually see our patients at this time to introduce ourselves (if they hadn’t met us before) see how they were doing, and check in with their nurse to see if they needed anything from us.

night float

8 p.m. – 7 a.m.

This time is usually spent…

  • Checking vitals/labs/imaging/consult notes on patients
  • Covering the answering service for our office/the nursing homes our attendings cover (for any patients/staff calling in for issues/concerns)
  • Trying to sneak in some sleep (the best window was usually somewhere between 12-4 a.m., although there would often be interruptions in between)
  • Catching up on office notes
  • If it’s reallyyyyy quiet, I tried to spend the time that I was awake prepping future presentations and writing/scheduling blog posts while my senior resident worked on a video slideshow tribute for our graduating third-year residents.

Our call rooms are located are located in the basement of the hospital. It is cold af, but thankfully we can pile up on blankets and I also took to sleeping in several layers (when there was time to sleep). We also have rogue space heaters. Huh? What?

A snippet from graduation dinner! :P

A snippet from graduation dinner! 😛

My/my senior resident’s last names rhyme, so that sometimes made for amusing situations with our patients. I also had one patient whose daughter-in-law apparently looks just like me and is from California as well, so when she first saw me walk into the emergency room, she did a triple-take.

Fun fact: I’ve heard mention that the call rooms are also located right next to the morgue. Did you really have to know this? Probably not, but if I have to chill here with that thought going through my head, I might as well share.

On one of the nights, it was my senior resident’s birthday, so we had a pizza “party” in the call room to celebrate.

7 p.m. – 8 a.m.

Sometimes, we’d have a “late” admission and would be off finishing that up before heading up (much more doable when there are two people on, but starting second year and on, we’re on our own on night float! :[ ).

We’d use this time to grab breakfast and meet up either in the call room or the cafeteria to sign out our patients to the day team!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/ditl-inpatient-service-night-float/



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  1. Joanne | No Plate Like Home

    Hi! It must be hard to adjust to working at night. I’m sure you’ll make out great in the end. Your patients are lucky to have you.
    Joanne | No Plate Like Home recently posted…Rustic Strawberry Lemon Rhubarb GaletteMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thanks so much, Joanne! :] It wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, but that just be because I don’t seem to have a functioning circadian rhythm, hahah.

  2. Susie @ Suzlyfe

    AAAAAHHHHH Night float. During Residency, Alex would have night float for a week, so he at least had a chance to adjust and create a routine. During fellowship it will just be totally random here and there. So it will just mess up his sleep schedule. You’ll get used to it!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Imma Ride a (Migraine) Train (Weekend Recap)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yeah, I’m definitely not a fan of the random one, so I’m glad our night float is for 2 weeks at a time! We get spot calls on the weekends but still way better than every 3-4 days!
      Farrah recently posted…Thai Coconut Sago PuddingMy Profile

  3. ShootingStarsMag

    Ooh interesting! Right next to the morgue you say? Well, that’s gotta be an interesting feeling. haha I love these posts!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie LoftMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      hahaha, right? Random “fun” fact–I felt like I had to share it with someone! 😛
      Farrah recently posted…Thai Coconut Sago PuddingMy Profile

  4. Kristy from Southern In Law

    I have no idea how people can work nights so I give you major kudos!

    I would TOTALLY be freaking myself out over the proximity to the morgue thing 😛
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recipe: The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      haha, it definitely helps that I can fall asleep whenever and wherever!

      I’m trying not to think about that part! ;P
      Farrah recently posted…Thai Coconut Sago PuddingMy Profile

  5. Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    I bet your sleeping was all thrown off with this! So hard to not sleep with the rest of the world.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Day Trip to Mt. PilatusMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      haha, it was a little bit knocked off schedule but I got back to normal pretty quickly! Will be repeating this in a couple weeks though! ?
      Farrah recently posted…Thai Coconut Sago PuddingMy Profile

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