Advice I wish I had as an F1
Your first year on the job can be overwhelming, and being in a formal working environment for the first time is intimidating. We’ve collected the most practical tips from junior doctors who’ve been in your shoes help set your mind at ease:
Always introduce yourself to your patients.
Introducing yourself personally is a simple way to make people feel looked after and give more personal care – and people will remember who you are, so they’ll know to reach out to you if they need any help.
Learn how to organise your leave.
This is the first time you’ll need to organise your own holiday rather than having your university do it for you. No more reading week, no more long swathes off at summer, and no more Christmas holiday! Suddenly, you’re thrust into a world where if you don’t organise yourself very quickly, and rely on those around you to fill in the gaps – or you’ll be working at some pretty unfavourable times very quickly. Consider it your life, on hard mode.
Make friends with the nurses early.
Nurses are your best friends now – they’re your right hand in the wards, and you should treat them as such. There’s a 90% chance that they’ve seen a situation you’re unprepared for before – so don’t be afraid to ask them questions, but also, make sure you’re kind and respectful. A nurse that likes you can be the difference between a shift from hell and a walk in the park.
Remember that everyone feels scared.
Your SHO was in your position a year ago. You’re not the only one working your first day on a new job. What you’re doing is really hard – and really scary! It’s natural to feel nervous, so don’t get stressed about being stressed. If you find yourself overwhelmed, take some deep breaths and remember – everyone is in the same boat. You’re going to be okay.
Figure out how to say no.
I’ve found it difficult to say no at first – but if you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will. And even if they do, they’ll only be around as long as your rotation. When you’re running yourself ragged writing extra discharge letters, prescribing laxatives at 2am, when the work never ends and you have a million more things to do tomorrow and are on-call – say no to more. Knowing when something can wait until the next day is vital.
Ask if you’re not sure.
It is your first few weeks as a practising doctor. Don’t try to second-guess your consultant or registrar’s instructions – and definitely don’t start taking action if you’re not sure what you’re doing! If you need help, ask. It’ll save you a lot of headaches, and moreover, no one expects you to be perfect in your first month. You’re new – don’t forget that.
Listen to your intuition.
Trust your gut. If it feels dodgy or you’ve got a nagging doubt, speak up. It never hurts to clarify or double check – and you may just end up saving someone’s life.
Take time to look after yourself.
In the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget about yourself – but if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll struggle to keep your head up. Don’t forget to pee, don’t forget to eat. Take a minute if you need. You will be really busy – plan ahead and make sure you have some ‘you time’ outside of the hospital at least once a week.
Get involved in the Doctors’ Mess.
The highlights of your FY1 year will be time spent with other doctors. This will be what you remember, and will shape your experiences for years to come – you’ll make new friendships, and find people who feel exactly the same way you do – and it never hurt to have someone who likes you to swap on-calls with when you need it.
Join the online Doctors’ Mess.