Nocturnal on demand

by Lorien E. Menhennett

I’m hoping a pot of strong coffee will help prepare me for my first night shift on labor and delivery.

I can count the number of all-nighters I’ve pulled on one hand. All were in college. Tonight I will add to that number. Tonight, I start working nights on labor and delivery (L&D). It’s only for four shifts. But it will definitely be a growing experience.

I’m simply not a night person — morning is when I shine. Some people will stay up late to finish their work, then crash when they’re done. Not me. Back when I was in journalism, with a newspaper deadline looming, I would go to bed at 10 p.m., sleep for a few hours, then wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. to finish writing my stories.

But babies are born around the clock. So being a medical student on L&D means both learning what goes into a delivery and developing the stamina to work these long and sometimes awkward hours. The same principle is true for many other specialties too.

There doesn’t seem to be any good way to shift your schedule from days to nights. I got up as usual this morning, and then after lunch took a 2-hour nap. I made a pot of French press coffee around 4 p.m., which I’m drinking now. I’ve got lunch (if you can call your midnight meal that) and snacks packed, and more caffeine if needed.

Here goes …