Night Float in Residency

Night time in the city

Now that your partner is in Residency, you’ll need to prepare yourself for Night Float. The first month of Night Float can be very hard and depressing.  Living with someone and seeing their face every night to zero-contact for almost a month is going to be challenging. You will feel a ton of emotions: boredom, anger, and sadness. You might not sleep easily either at first too so that you might experience insomnia and exhaustion. These are normal feelings, so to tackle the loneliness, create a schedule of things to keep your mind occupied.  This could be creating a weekly girls night (in or out), see family (if you live close – if not call them), going to work out in the evenings (there are yoga classes in the evenings that are very relaxing), or find a new hobby. 

Not to mention, by including weekend calls to the list you may have barely anytime with your partner during the month they are on Night Float. You might only see your partner a whole 4 times in a month.

When Jake had off, he would stick to his sleep regimen (he would try to sleep during the day and stay up during the night) or sleep even longer, because the night shift really messes with your circadian rhythm, aka your sleep schedule.

If your partner gets a Saturday and a Sunday back-to-back off is a rare miracle.  It’s called a Golden Weekend. Make the most of it!

Night-float is the worst no matter where your partner is at for Residency. On surgery night float, it only gets harder as they go up in the PGY level. As they are a year wiser, the intern has to clear everything with them before talking to the Chief. When they become the Chief, they are the 1st person most likely to know if someone needs an operation or not. The higher PGY level they are = the more consults/questions = the more work they have to do. This helps prepares them for when they are the attending.

Depending on the Residency program, Night Float can be as long as a week to a month in length. If you work a normal 8-5 job, then you might not see your partner until Night Float is over. From my perspective, Night Float can be challenging on a relationship, whether it’s a new developing one or an established one. There could be less intimacy, you may feel like you’re not on the same page, and it could take more effort on both sides with communication or doing things around the house. 

The duration of Night Float also varies. Some programs have a two-month block (two-months on night float); whereas, others could be less (one-month). Frequency depends on the size of the Residency program and the acuity of the hospital (how many services need to be covered, private practice versus academic, how many attendings on-call, etc.).

Just remember, the first month will be the hardest, so prepare yourself on what to expect and keep your mind busy.  Talk to your partner when you can, and create a schedule around their night float.  Take advantage of his free-days, but also keep in mind that he will need to stick to a sleep schedule for his own health.

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