10 Tips For You Newbie Doctors from Someone Who Was in Your Shoes Not Too Long Ago
Soooo black Wednesday has been and gone. For the unintiated this is the day when all the fresh doctors from medical school arrive to take up their first jobs.
(no, we’ll be fine! I promise!)
I am a year senior so we get inducted and start around 2 days later than the newbie doctors. When I finally met the 2 doctors under my tutelage one of them burst into tears in a mixed state of happiness at my arriving and reflection of her struggles during the last couple of days and the other was clearly stressed out of her mind and putting on a brave face.
Over the next week I gave them some advice and guidance and they started leaving on time and in fact became much more confident with their role. We even have bowling with the team to look forward to now that everyone has settled in.
I hope to share the advice I gave them with anyone else who is a new doctor and finding things daunting. This is advice from someone who has been in your shoes and needed this advice at that time. Hope it helps.
1. You should never be I’m a position where you are the last port of call for medical advice - you will always have seniors to ask advice from. Please seek their advice and don’t feel you are alone. We expect this of you in the first few weeks. This leads me onto…
2. If there is any doubt…ASK! - A junior that is not aware of their limited knowledge and of when they should call for advice is a dangerous doctor. If you have any doubt just run it by a senior. Do not think this makes you a worse doctor. It makes you a better one.
3. The senior nurse is a font of knowledge - you can always ask their advice on things. They have been there for years and will know the ins and outs of the wards. Want to know what the usual discharge planning for a fractured neck of femur is? Ask the sister. Want to know what clinics you can refer your patient to? Ask the sister. Want to get someone to calm down a patient’s family since you are preoccupied….who you gonna call? Just hope you don’t have a matron/sister like this one…..
4. Get to grips with the history of all your patients - when you are doing the ward round with the consultant and they say “oh, who was he again?” in reference to a patient you should be able to tell them everything they need to know. If you can do that then the senior doctors and all the nursing staff will have much more confidence in what you say. How can you do that? That leads me onto….
5. Make a patient list that you regularly update and contains the salient things you need to know - I typically make my list at the end of the day and update it very briefly with any new overnight patients the next morning. My list contains patient name, dob, hospital number, comorbidities, presentation and current management, salient blood tests or scan results and an empty box for note making. Read over this list before you start your ward round just to refresh your brain and go wow them with your knowledge!
6. Blood tests should be checked religiously and don’t forget to book then in advance - most hospitals have a phlebotomy service, do take advantage of them. Book blood tests you want the day before and on Friday for the weekend (let the on call doctors know to check the blood tests during the weekend) and for Monday. When a patient has had blood taken you will typically get results back by around lunch time. Try and specifically allocate yourself a time to review blood tests and don’t leave it to the last minute of the day….discovering a potassium of 7 several hours after the fact is not good practice and will leave you staining your pants at the end of the day…
8. If you have a portfolio that you need signatures for to show you have competency in skills….Get it filled early. Do not ever wait till the last minute because you will be stressed and may not even get exposure to things you need to get signed off last minute.
9. After work, chill out. Relax. Don’t stress about the day. It’s someone else’s problem now. I strongly recommended going to the gym or doing some sport to keep you fit and get rid of work stress. But do whatever you find helps.
10. Plan out your career as far as you can. If you want to be a surgeon. Let your team know and ask to help on procedures and get in on research papers and audits. These things are easier to do the earlier you start them!
And finally, have fun. Get to know your team. Have some banter. Crack some jokes. Make lifelong friends. You will have a great year. Till next time dear readers.