Open Accessibility Menu

Nocturnists Bring Balance to Hospital Staff

Nocturnists Bring Balance to Hospital Staff

Hospitalist day is celebrated on the first Thursday of March and provides an opportunity to recognize the Norman Regional physicians who care for our hospitalized patients. Much like other industries, there are hospitalists who work the night shift who are known as nocturnists. Every day when hospitalists go home, the nocturnists clock in to ensure the highest standard of patient care extends on into the night.

Why Become a Nocturnist?

Working the night shift at a hospital has its challenges and takes a specific type of person who can handle working long shifts and adjusting their schedule to make this happen. However, there are many perks that come with the position as well, especially for those who enjoy the night. Nocturnists have more opportunities to enhance the patient-doctor relationship as they don’t have to worry as much about working around staff meetings or other daytime obligations that can affect the ability for a doctor to connect with their patients.

“I worked as a hospitalist and later transitioned into the nocturnist schedule. It just fit my needs better and I felt like it was a good opportunity to be there and care for people when they are at their sickest in the hospital,” said Ryan Winfrey, DO, a nocturnist at Norman Regional.

“One big difference as a nocturnist is that you usually see patients early on in their hospital stay, often times right when they check in. So there is a lot more discovery and investigation into what the patients are facing and developing a plan to help them.”

Opportunities as a Nocturnist vs. Hospitalist

The opportunities to grow skills as a nocturnist are also abundant due to the fact that in the middle of the night, the nocturnist is the primary specialist and there are times where they will have to make important decisions on their own without the luxury of an immediate consultation. So while there are many drawing factors for the nocturnist, the hospital itself also reaps many benefits from having a nocturnist like Dr. Winfrey on their team.

“Having a nocturnist definitely makes the health system more efficient. It makes sure there is someone dedicated to the night shift, rather than having doctors rotating through the night,” Dr. Winfrey said.

“It allows the daytime doctors to focus on the day and put more attention to doing their job better, while they can trust me to handle the night.”

Despite the many benefits that a nocturnist brings to a health system, they aren’t present at every hospital. In fact, having a nocturnist on staff can be a major privilege for a health system. They can be difficult to recruit and in many cases there aren’t many on staff. Despite the fact that nocturnists are few and far between, this doesn’t take away from the significant impact they have on hospital efficiency.