When sleeping on the job is a doctor's best course of action

For safety's sake, we must shed a light on the culture of night shifts and solve the tireless/tiredness equation

Night shift. It’s 4am, and the ward is finally quiet after a rush of clinical reviews. The lights are dim, patients are all in bed, the tea room chairs converted to makeshift stretchers for nurses napping on break.

Tired doctor

I sit staring bleary-eyed at the computer screen, raising my eyebrows to keep my lids from drooping shut. There’s nowhere to sleep, and if I do steal away to a couch in the office my absence will be noted.

The head of department made it clear: you don’t get paid to sleep. Intermittently I startle as I nod off.