Thursday, December 8, 2011

A well-rested student on surgery

During my surgery clerkship during my third year of med school, I woke up every day at 4AM. Yet I was rarely sleep deprived. Why?

Because almost every single day, I took a nap.

In retrospect, I'm not entirely sure how I managed this. But somehow I was doing a lot of ambulatory surgeries, and there was always a gap in-between surgeries, or at least a surgery I could skip out on. I never felt like I was doing anything wrong. I was just taking advantage of some downtime.

In retrospect though, it seems like I must have been doing something wrong, doesn't it?

I slept in the resident call room, which was always empty in the morning. I was on surgery in the middle of winter, but the call room was always nice and warm, like a womb. There were also no windows in the room, so it was pitch black with the lights out. I would put my head down on the pillow and be asleep in thirty seconds. Sometimes when I'm trying to fall asleep in my bed at home, I fantasize about that call room.

Even though I wasn't particularly secretive about it, I don't think anyone knew about my daily naps. Overall, I got good comments on that rotation and nobody wrote, "Student sneaks off every day to take nap."


  1. Windowless call rooms are a godsend. No bright lights to bother you, no reminders of how late you're up, no portals to the outside - noisy - world.

  2. Why didn't I think of that? Perhaps because all of the call rooms at my hospital are freezing cold, have only one paper-thin blanket, and are located in the noisiest parts of the hospital. You know, so that they're "conveniently located" relative to the wards. Sounds like a great way of coping with surgery though. Perhaps I would've been less angry through my surgical rotations if I'd been napping too.

  3. Brilliant.

    On my trauma rotation, we had a week of nights where the hours were 5PM - 9AM. But! You carried a pager, so if there were no traumas, you could totally sleep. I got at least 2 hours each night. One night I got 5 and the other I got 6. And then I'd go home and sleep for another 6 hours the following day. It was glorious. Some students felt that they had to be present at all times in the trauma bay studying or else it would look bad. I can tell you for a fact that the fact I slept did not matter one bit to my grade.


  4. There was this one particular night in Trauma when I was given some work in the surgical wards. The nurse there was kind enough to open the students' lecture room for me, where I dozed off on the examination couch. Later made my way to the anesthesia on-call room where I managed another 3 hours. Got woken up for a couple of central lines & finally dozed off with my Trauma Resident, an old friend who had a glorious habit of informing everyone not to enter that on-call room unless someone was actually dying! Total of 8 hours in a twelve hour shift.. Glorious!
    Unfortunately, that's the last time I ever managed any sleep in surgery