The Benefits and Drawbacks of Being a Nocturnal Hospitalist
If you’re a hospitalist and you’re a night owl, becoming a nocturnist can be a rewarding career move. The nocturnist lifestyle does have a few challenges, but we think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks – for the right physician. If the thought of being a nocturnist makes you want to roll over and take a nap right now, it’s definitely not for you. But if you’re thinking, this sounds plausible (even intriguing), read on.
Benefits of Being a Nocturnist
From increased earning potential to more time with patients, the benefits of being a nocturnist are unmatched. These are just some of the many perks nocturnists enjoy:
- High demand – Most hospitals – over 70% – have nocturnists on staff (thehospitalist.org). This opens doors for providers across the nation.
- Increased pay – Compensation varies, but sources report nocturnists are paid 10-29% more than day-shift hospitalists (thehospitalist.org, todayshospitalist.com).
- Various responsibilities – Nocturnist duties can include admitting medical and non-medical patients, cross-covering inpatients, admitting and covering ICU patients, triaging, performing consults, telemedicine, and more (Society of Hospital Medicine).
- Lighter patient load – While every assignment is different, day-shift hospitalists see an average of 17 patients per shift, while nocturnists see only 13 (Today’s Hospitalist).
- Fewer administrative demands – Without the distraction of meetings, morning rounding, and multiple staff encounters, nocturnists can spend more time with patients. They can focus on providing uninterrupted care.
- Greater autonomy – Nocturnists have an important responsibility. With that comes much more independence. This sense of autonomy appeals to many providers.
- Deeper staff relationships – Since there are fewer clinicians and staff members working during the night, nocturnists have the ability to build deeper relationships with their teams.
- Improved outcomes – The addition of nocturnists can help improve a hospital’s throughput, patient satisfaction, average length of stay and quality of care (thehospitalist.org). Hiring nocturnists can even lower complaints and adverse events (todayshospitalist.com).
- Better morale – Knowing a hospital has a dedicated nocturnist can improve morale among other hospitalists who don’t want to work nights.
- Lower stress – Dedicated nocturnists may have less stress and fatigue (thehospitalist.org), particularly those who adjust well to working nights. Plus, the slower pace can prove less demanding.
- Flexibility – Many nocturnists find the schedule actually allows more time with family. Providers with children can see them off to school and be available for daytime events. They can also have extended time off between shifts.
Challenges of Being a Nocturnist
The benefits may speak for themselves, but if you’re truly considering becoming a nocturnist, also consider these drawbacks:
- Fluctuating demands – Depending on the facility, the pace may vacillate. Nocturnists may face a slow-paced shift followed by back-to-back patient exams and emergencies.
- Limited resources – Nocturnists don’t have the same access to the full medical staff and colleagues. For example, specialists won’t be readily available to consult in person (though they may be on call).
- Daytime meetings – Nocturnists might have to come in for meetings which are generally held during the day.
- Circadian rhythms – Some people find it hard to reset their circadian rhythms to work during the night. It can also be hard to be out of sync with family and friends.
While admittedly there are some challenges, hospitalists who are flexible, resourceful, independent and resilient should have no problem overcoming these drawbacks. Those who were designed to be nocturnists won’t hesitate!
Were you made to be a nocturnist? Taking a locums assignment means you can try it out without having to make a long-term commitment! Connect with our experts to get started today.