The event that seemed to increase my confidence in my early days as a junior doctor was the start of night shifts. It is funny, it should have been the opposite – left ‘alone’ to manage the wards without a bevy of supporting doctors. However the general quiteness and autonomy left me time to think more logically about my patients and formulate sensible management plans. That is not to say that I did not call on my seniors – I frequently did. However this difference was that I has usually initiated assessment and treatment and I knew the specific question I needed answering. This made a great deal of different when I was talking to a sleepy senior house officer and registrar at three am in the morning.
During my night shifts I got better at placing cannulas, catheters, attempted to place a nasogastric tube. I got better at taking histories and presenting the relevant facts rather than an uninteresting monologue. Despite the exhaustion because of the reveresed sleeping pattern – it was actually an enjoyable time of my training.
Though in reflection – the ‘honeymoon’ period wore off quickly and I have never really viewed night shifts in quite the same way!