I’m pretty sure that most people hate working nights, so when I turned up to my first night ‘on call’ with a grin like a Cheshire cat and a bounce in my step… I think the doctors there assumed I was weird.

Not only that, but the patients did too.. “your here at night and not getting paid, why?” The baffled faces were everywhere.

But I was excited and rightly so because hospitals at night are great!

The wonderful FY1 that I shadowed explained everything and didn’t make me feel silly for asking questions, she didn’t laugh at me for being over enthusiastic at being allowed to reply to her on call bleep and she didn’t think I was weak for finding some of the cases we saw so incredibly sad.

Although it was a great experience for me – getting to see my first trauma admission to A and E, seeing how nurses deal with aggressive patients, and many other things. I also realised how different hospitals are at night for patients…

… they can be incredibly scary and lonely. No visitors, nurses talking in hushed voices, doctors can appear to be absent and where as in the day patients may feel confident in asking for things, at night they often suffer in silence.

I know from my own inpatient experiences following both c-sections, how different a hospital is at night, especially if you cannot sleep. You worry about not waking other patients, not disturbing doctors and nurse who may have emergencies to deal with, are you allowed to get a drink? Pain relief? Have a light on? Things that you wouldn’t need to think about if you were at home.

It’s important to remember how patients may feel at night time and what an unnatural environment it I can be.

I think that, that was the most valuable thing that doing a night shift taught me:

Not to forget the patients who may lie their quietly but not sleeping, to remember that they may not be happy at having blood taken at 2am or at having to wait for paracetamol that they would be able to get straight away at home. Patients’ reactions and emotions make sense as long as we give ourselves time to try and understand them.

Following my night shift I quickly signed up for another one and whist I will still be excited and enthusiastic I will also be extra mindful of the patient experience.

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