When you think about the field of radiology, do you picture yourself working from dusk to dawn for years at a time? I suspect that most of you have not. More likely, you’ve probably dreamed of a 9-5 job with an occasional call on weekends and evenings. So, what do you lose out on by beginning a career as a nighthawk? And, are there any permanent advantages to working as a Nighthawk for years at a time? Let’s delve into the main issues of working as a radiology Nighthawk.
Why Nighthawk Can Be So Difficult
Imagine yourself up on the computer at night beginning at 10 pm and working until the wee hours of the morning at 7 am, reading films night after night. For most people, social and business activities occur during the daylight hours. So, when you create a schedule for yourself such as this, in essence, you live the life of a loner. Sure, you may receive phone calls from attendings and medical professionals who need your assistance from time to time. But, are those truly the interactions that you looked for when you decided to go into radiology? Probably not.
Furthermore, say you need to take care of some business at a bank or make returns to a store. These mundane activities turn into a real hassle. Instead of conveniently stopping by these places to take care of business, now you must reverse your entire schedule just to get there. It can be hard enough at times to get out of work even for me during the daytime! I can only imagine the difficulties for a nighthawk.
And then, of course, there are the health issues. Study after study has espoused the dangers of reversing one’s sleep schedule to counter the normal nighttime sleep. Take a look at this article from the sleep foundation (1). They list a whole host of physical, mental, performance, and safety issues encountered by the night worker. Believe it or not, it includes increased risks of cancer, depression, and more. Do you really want to take on these increased risks?
The Allure Of Nighthawk
Yet, wouldn’t be nice to set up shop any place you want? Do you want to live on the west side of Manhattan? Or, maybe rent a place in Malibu on the beach? Well, it doesn’t matter if local jobs are not available when you are a Nighthawk. You can work from anywhere. But, is it really worth the sacrifice?
For some folks, Nighthawk positions allow a radiologist to get their proverbial foot in the door. In some locations, getting into a practice can be exceedingly difficult. And sometimes, Nighthawk can be a solution. Because the hours are less desirable, radiologists less likely compete for these entry jobs. Now, you have a way in. But, don’t think you will be able to work your way into a daytime job that quickly. Other radiologists in the practice certainly will not chomp at the bit to take your place!
Then, the idea of working at an office or hospital with others may not sit well. Some people would rather go it alone, literally. Well, of course, Nighthawk from home can be a very solitary assignment. Maybe, this is exactly what you want from life?
And finally, practices will often jack up the income stream to entice the new radiologist to take a Nighthawk position. For those of you with extreme debt (I mean greater than 500,000 dollars), the amount of savings can be enormous. Of course, it is not without sacrifice, however.
To Make The Ultimate Sacrifice- A Nighthawk Position
In the end, it is your decision. A Nighthawk position does have significant advantages, but not without significant sacrifices. If you are willing to forego convenience, tempt fate, live a loner’s life, but live where you want and pay your debts off sooner, then maybe, just maybe… a Nighthawk position is for you!