Background: A designated ‘nocturnist’ position is a relatively new but rapidly growing, valuable addition to academic centers. However, institutions find it difficult to attract and retain nocturnists. Among the solutions proposed, one that benefits both the nocturnist and the institution is scholarly activity. (1) This is particularly important in the academic setting where scholarly work is the currency of academic success. Promotion and tenure are dependent upon such activity. Expressed barriers to writing include lack of time, competing demands, anxiety about writing, and lack of knowledge about the submission process. (2) One catalyst solution with good outcomes has been collaborative Peer-Support Writing Groups (PSWG). (3,4)
Purpose: In this abstract, we present our PSWG “Night Writer” group. This is a means for even those nocturnists inexperienced with professional publication to advance in scholarly activity in the academic setting.
Description: The nocturnist schedule structure at our institution is ‘7 days on / 7 days off.’ Residents regularly rotate through the night curriculum and other physicians-in-training from various departments have the opportunity to moonlight as cross-cover and admitting physicians. Hence, nocturnists are often the first to identify interesting cases or projects.The “Night Writer” group was developed to share cases and work on scholarly dissemination. Initially, the first ‘cycle’ of meetings was monthly for approximately 6 months leading to the end of the academic year in July. In the first cycle, three abstracts were submitted to conferences, two of which were published. Monthly meetings were found to be too infrequent to motivate towards publication. Beginning in the second year, a decrease in interval from monthly to weekly one hour meetings allowed a constant flux of interested parties to discuss ideas and complete small, manageable workloads. The majority of meetings were held via Zoom software (Zoom Video Communications, Inc.) Meetings were set from 6pm-7pm to allow work-scheduled nocturnists time to arrive at the hospital early and participate. An institutional, HIPAA-compliant cloud-based storage (Dropbox) service, rather than email, housed all PSWG documents including in-progress work, meeting minutes/agendas, and venue specific submission guidelines. During each meeting, a moderator present at all meetings would summarize previous meetings’ minutes and set the agenda. Short-term projects were discussed first, followed by various submission deadlines, then medium to long-term projects, and finally news. During each few-minute long project discussion, discrete goals and timelines with responsible parties were set to be met by the next meeting. Project roles were defined in the minutes document to increase accountability and allow easy reference.
Conclusions: A “Night Writer” PSWG can help busy nocturnists participate in scholarly activity and dissemination. We noticed that an interested core group, support from leadership, and access to great cases were facilitators to the success of our group. Barriers included a busy clinical work schedule, limited senior mentorship, and the nature of nocturnist work which isolates faculty from some resources available for the day faculty. The week on/week off schedule was both a facilitator and a barrier. While allowing time to write, it could lead to inertia in attendance. Academic Hospital Medicine nocturnist groups interested in supporting scholarly activity can benefit from a PSWG such as the “Night Writers.”