Continuing workforce shortages mean that hospitalists can be choosy about their work schedules. Even fresh graduates from residency programs want to work day shifts only. However, there will be hospitalists who are willing to work at night under the right circumstances.
Pay and time off appear to be key factors in hiring and keeping nocturnists, physicians who work exclusively at night.
Some hospitals maintain a 5-on/10-off night schedule giving nocturnists the same full-time salary and benefits as hospitalists who work seven-on/seven-off. Essentially, they work fewer shifts than their daytime colleagues but qualify for the full benefits package.
There are hospitals who may allow them to choose the number of nights they work in a row.
Night shifts may be reduced to nine hours from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. instead of the usual twelve hours, allowing nocturnists to enjoy time with their families in the evening before work.
Having dedicated nocturnists is advantageous not only to the hospital and patients but also to the doctor. Dedicated nocturnists have less fatigue and stress. Effective scheduling also means improved productivity. The benefit to the hospital is having an alert physician available in case of an emergency.
Ideally, for an administrator, finding the right balance where nocturnists and day hospitalists have different but equal appeals. Hospitals that have made allowances for nocturnists’ scheduling have reduced their turnover rate. Daytime hospitalists also benefit as they are relieved from covering nighttime shifts.
Not only is morale improved, making for a better work environment, but reduced turnover is a cost-saving factor for the hospital.