Interviewer: Do you have any occupational folklore or superstitions that come with the jobs or things that you or someone else has experienced?
Informant: There’s this huge belief among physicians that when there’s a full moon, we get patients who are somewhat more crazy. The cases overall are more strange and difficult. It gets more chaotic and dangerous to be like working in the ER or even just seeing everyday patients.
Interviewer: Do you have some examples?
Informant: Well more women seem to go into labor when there’s a full moon. There are weirder cases that we usually don’t see very often. For instance, rotating in the ER you see more stabbings, more shooting victims and more car accident cases that on a regular day would not happen.
Interviewer: Now that you aren’t rotating at the hospital, do you still see weird cases? Do your regular patients act in a weird way?
Informant: Yes, definitely. But more than seeing weird cases or situations of why they are coming to visit it is more that the patients I see around a full moon are acting strangely or they aren’t behaving like their normal selves. It seems like a psychological change, that all of a sudden there’s a shift and then these people that I know just change. It’s interesting though because even if I don’t know its currently a full moon, and I have a lot of these strange experiences with patients, it will turn out that the following night is a full moon.
Interviewer: Is there anything you do to prepare or protect yourself if you know a full moon is coming?
Informant: No, I think I’ve found that it is going to happen no matter what you try to do to resist it so it’s just better to take it as it comes. If you just acknowledge the power of the full moon then you won’s be so distressed about the things that are happening and realize it’s not you it’s just the way it is.
Interviewer: Thanks so much for sharing, it has been really helpful and interesting to hear about this.
Background: Maria Juarez-Reyes has been a physician for over twenty years and while she used to round at a hospital, she has since moved to primary care. Despite her change of work venue, this belief in the magic of the moon has followed her as it seems to have followed many in the health care professions. To her this piece is not only folklore containing magic but also occupational folklore as she has yet to find another profession that sees this phenomenon.
Context: This interview took place while at a weekend at home with family. The informant first experience this phenomenon while an intern who was rounding at her first hospital and then has experienced it ever since. She has also had colleagues who have had their own experiences with the power of the moon and have contributed to the overall belief and its potency.
Analysis: This piece is extremely interesting not only because it is well known within the community of health care professionals but also because those outside this profession associate the magic with doctors. Even professor Thompson brought up this example during lecturer one day as an example of folk magic and related it back to a common belief among physicians. It is also interesting to point out the development of folk beliefs that women are said to be biologically in tune with the moon cycles and to see it in some ways come to life. Especially with the example that more women often go into labor when the moon is full.