• Question: do you find working overnight difficult/ is it rewarding?

    Asked by claraL to Dave on 8 Nov 2021.
    • Photo: Dave Healy

      Dave Healy answered on 8 Nov 2021:

      Good question! It’s definitely something to consider for anyone thinking about a career as a healthcare worker.

      Working overnight can be challenging. Many years ago doctors used to work for 36 or even 48 hour shifts, which probably wasn’t very good for them, and certainly wasn’t safe for patients they were looking after. These days we are not allowed to work for longer than 24 hours in a row and most hospitals and departments have moved to using shift systems, where doctors work 12 or 13 hours before someone else takes over.

      Working overnight is something you get used to, and usually you are able to catch up on sleep the next day because you have a day off following a night shift. Some people are able to stay awake more easily than others.
      Usually there are fewer doctors working at night time, so you are a bit more independent and have to make decisions and manage the patients you’re looking after without input from the rest of the team. This is both challenging and very rewarding.
      There are bedrooms for doctors in the hospital as well, so if you get a quiet spell you can pop to bed to try and get a nap.

      From a researcher point of view, if it seems like a mum might have a preterm baby we can discuss taking part in research 24 hours a day, and some of our studies are time sensitive (i.e. the baby must be enrolled within a few hours of being born), so we are sometimes called in from home in the middle of the night to speak to those patients about research. I think this aspect is really rewarding because if you are able to learn from the babies, in a safe way, it can really help how we might care for babies in the future.