Dr. Brian Goldman works the night shift in the ER at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and has been doing so for more than 20 years. With another career as a radio broadcaster, Goldman uses his journalistic skills to take the reader through his 11pm to 7am shift and showcase some of the cases he has seen. This includes a woman who was in labour yet didn't realize she was pregnant, a suicidal elderly man, and a victim of a bar fight. This book shows you what kind of people and problems an ER sees, how doctors and nurses work together, and what doctors think about when they diagnose patients.
Interestingly, Goldman views his job as a part time job. He works more than 8 hours, as he often stays past his shift to make sure he doesn't leave any patients on the next doctor's plate (a very important item for him as he mentions it multiple times throughout the book). He describes how fatigue can affect doctors and nurses who work these hours and yet he still has a job as a radio show host. One wonders how he finds the time and energy to do this.
The most endearing part of this book, however, is how humane and honest Goldman comes across. You often think of doctors as being egotists that think they can never make a mistake or admit to making one. Goldman makes it clear that he is always afraid of making a mistake and hearing the three dreaded words "Do you remember" which usually implies a patient has died after being treated by the doctor. Goldman is also honest about how he selects cases not always based on how long the person has been waiting in the ER, but on how much the case interests him (let's hope that when I go to the ER, I'm considered interesting enough to be seen more quickly!).
I notice with non-fiction reads I really enjoy that I commonly say "I'm reading this book about ..." and mention some interesting fact about the book. I've done that a couple times while reading The Night Shift. This book looks at not only a Toronto ER, but our overall health care system and how doctors perceive their roles. A very interesting read!
First Line: "Some people choose to work nights."