It’s that time of year again. New qualified doctors, degree certificate in hand (not literally!), are about to descend on Britain’s wards. I remember my first day quite clearly. A 12 and a half hour day in ICU. My first prescription was for 20mg of Omeprazole. I remember walking down, butterflies in my tummy and slightly nauseated from lack of sleep. My car broke down that morning, I had to get a lift from my ex-husband to work. I was 20 weeks pregnant and peeing all the time. I attended my first crash and have yet to see another crash call like that one – all four Ts and four Hs were systematically explored, including opening the chest for pericardiocentesis on the ward. I remember walking up the hill on the way home thinking I survived, with the above exception my patients survived. Back home to bed, to come in again the next day. But that was it, THE FIRST DAY AS AN ACTUAL DOCTOR was over!
If this will be you in the coming weeks, I strongly recommend a trip to Twitter and reading the excellent #tipsfornewdocs hash tag. I didn’t read it back then, wish I had. These tips are informative, straight from the horse’s mouth and sometimes hilarious. If you’ve not signed up for Twitter, I strongly recommend it as a new junior doctor. You can learn up-to-the-minute news from medical bodies & departments, learn about new research, engage in educational learning, find support, laugh out loud and find yourself feeling very informed about your job and the NHS. There are so many good people and bodies to follow, too many to mention in fact, but JuniorDr magazine has a good list of top tweeters.
Due to having babies I’ve been an F1 for 3 years (now finally moving on to F2), so I’ve had the experience of what an F1 does for what feels like an eternity! If you are feeling nervous or excited about starting, here are a few of my tips.
1. Smile. Obviously, only when appropriate, but a friendly face is an essential piece of kit!
2. Value every staff member working on your ward, from nurse to matron to cleaner. Everyone is working for the same goal, no one is ‘better’ than another. We are all the same team!
3. Know your limits. Ask for help when you feel uncomfortable. Most serious errors I know completed by junior doctors were when they weren’t quite sure but did it anyway. Not advisable.
4. Take snacks and a drink. Ideally, you will have time for a break but if you don’t you can re-fuel quickly.
5. Understand that the hospital has many patients waiting to come in and waiting for beds. Your role is to help patient’s on their journey through hospital smoothly and safely. Take care of them during their stay, recognise when they might be getting sick, treat them within your limitations, help plan for discharge, discharge them safely home and inform their GP about their stay. This means that we F1s must do a lot of ‘F1 jobs’ like drug charts, TTAs, bloods etc. But these are really important and if approached with that in mind can be done with more ‘joy'(!!)
6. Get on top of your ePortfolio straight away!
7. Read #TipsforNewDocs
8. Refresh yourself of GMC Good Medical Practice guidance.
There’s loads more to say, but others have much more to contribute that just me. Most of all, good luck and enjoy your work. You’ve worked extremely hard to get there. Now the fun and true learning begins. See you on Twitter, I’m @morefluids.