While most students are hanging out in their apartments, studying in Alderman, or out on the Corner into the early hours of the morning, there are a number of students working the late-night shifts of their jobs.
Second-year College student Elissa Trieu initially began volunteering as an emergency medical technician for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad to gain experience, as she hopes to enter the medical field. "It's great to get practice actually working under pressure, when you have to direct the calls and decide what to do," Trieu said.
Second-year College student Tevy Ribeiro works as a scribe in the emergency room of the University Health System. Scribes, paid hourly, work closely with physicians in the Department of Emergency Medicine, documenting patient histories, procedure notes and other medical records, as well as tracking laboratory and radiology results.
"[The job] allows for a completely unique experience of learning from and working with interns, residents and attending physicians," Ribeiro said. "Not many premed students get the chance to see the inner workings of an emergency room and also be part of the staff... I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity that aligns so well with my interest in medicine."
Students working night jobs use their time off during the day to their advantage.
Third-year College student Karen Brown, also a scribe for the University Healthy System, said, "Since the shift starts later, you have the day to spend outside, enjoy time with friends, or work on school work."
Third-year College student Margot Gurganus, a fellow scribe, said the "cool traumas" are another benefit of working late in the emergency room. "I feel like most of the exciting cases and traumas come in [late]," she said.
But the night shift has disadvantages too. Gurganus said the most difficult part about working late is "having to power through a seven- or eight-hour shift after going to classes all day."
Trieu said she sometimes has to wake up in the middle of the night to respond to emergencies. She said the night shift is especially difficult when she has to take a test the next day despite lack of sleep or time to study.
In addition to a lack of energy, many students find spending their free nights on the job means they are forced to sacrifice a part of their social lives. Trieu, who volunteers every Thursday night until 5 a.m. Friday morning, said she misses the fun of Thursday nights out.
"When most people choose to go out, I can't go because I'm here at the rescue station," Trieu said. "It's the worst when you have to say no to a party that your friend is having."
Brown has managed to find the winning formula, balancing work and fun. While she occasionally has to skip social events for late shifts, the scheduling system for the scribe program allows each scribe to indicate their availability which "makes it fairly easy to accommodate work and a social life," she said.
Despite the challenges facing students working late-night shifts, Gurganus said her time spent as a scribe in the emergency room is "one of the best experiences" she has had as an undergraduate.
"I'm being paid to do what other premed students have to work for - shadowing physicians day in and day out, observing procedures and being in a clinical setting," Gurganus said. And part of the job, she said, is being "willing to put aside your own commitments to help others, including colleagues, residents and interns who may need your assistance at literally any moment"