Although it may sound like a term a nature documentary might use describing owls or other night-dwelling creatures, nocturnist hospitalists are becoming an increasingly integral part of an understaffed medical world. Yet, what is a nocturnist exactly? These are a rare breed of hospitalist physicians who have somehow found a way to turn the night hours into their primary work shift. And while many hospitalists do end up working beyond standard office hours, it’s the nocturnist physician who dwells exclusively in the darkness! But why work as a nocturnist? The reasons might surprise you:
Find Work as a Nocturnist | Three Benefits
As it turns out, receiving care in a hospital at night or over the weekend can actually be somewhat hazardous to patients’ health. It’s called “the weekend effect,” and it refers to studies documenting higher rates of medical errors, complications and even death affecting patients who are treated at night, on weekends, or a combination of both. This phenomenon is often the result of staff being too few in number or too fatigued by the end of a long day — which is to be expected!
Although where the day shift leaves off, nocturnists find their opportunity to keep patient care running smoothly.
Finding work as a nocturnist is becoming increasingly possible between the more widespread acceptance of hospitalists in general, in addition to mandatory work hour limits and the push to improve safety by the federal government. A pioneer of the hospitalist movement, John Nelson made the case for nocturnists saying,
“It shouldn’t matter if a patient arrives with pneumonia at noon or midnight. What matters is that patients have a doctor who’s there and awake and expecting work.”
In addition to providing critical medical services throughout the night, finding work as a nocturnist has some great benefits:
Salary for Nocturnists
Although working as a hospitalist can already provide a great salary and some amazing benefits, you’ll find an increasing number of nocturnist positions that feature top compensation rates! According to Glassdoor, nocturnist physicians can make as much as $258k annually, with rates likely increasing as these positions become more widespread. Sure, working at night may not see the same patient volume as day, although those who do require care and treatment deserve sharpest professionals — and that’s where you come in!
Locum tenens hospitalists already have flexible hours, but finding work as a nocturnist can often provide even more unique schedules. According to Rebecca Y Mumpower, MD, nocturnists can coordinate with one another to really maximize their off-hours.
“I make it exactly the way I want it so long as my schedule doesn’t interfere with requests from my fellow nocturnists. I can say, ‘I want this weekend off’ or front load my month, then take 10 to 14 days off.”
For doctors who can easily find a new sleeping rhythm and who really want to tailor their work experience to a unique schedule, finding work as a nocturnist may be just the specialty you’ve been searching for!
Of course, besides the ability to make a great salary and have the flexible hours you need, nocturnist hospitalist may also encounter unique experiences compared to others. Working the night shift can often bring very different types of experiences and patients. Additionally, providing top care to patients throughout the night is something that most hospitals will find to be invaluable. When most hospitalists have reached their limit, you’ll just be clocking in with fresh energy and focus!
Additionally, finding locum tenens hospitalist and nocturnist positions means you’ll have lots of opportunities to explore unique locations across the U.S. given your current schedule. If that means getting more four-day weekends or streamlining your rest hours for more leisure time, finding a job as a nocturnist might be the perfect fit!
Do you have any experience with nocturnist or hospitalist positions? Let us know in the comments below!