Before I started my first job as a doctor which feels like ages ago (12 months ago), I was terrified. The words “do no harm” were my mantra. Being “good” was icing on the cake I thought. I looked up naturally to people who had been there and got the t-shirt to provide me with some well needed guidance and having just finished F1 I thought it was probably right that I passed the knowledge on whilst it’s still relatively fresh (kinda) in my head.
You can find the generic stuff anywhere but I’m gonna try and tell you the things people don’t tell you.
- You are there to do a job and help people and your patient is your first priority but you also matter too! You wouldn’t let your patient starve, ignore a mild hypo and AKI and continue so don’t let yourself get to the same state. I have done that. We all have and some days are crazy busy that you really can’t run and grab lunch but try to. Very few things can’t wait. The hospital won’t fall apart because you have lunch or you go and get some water. I use to feel guilty eating at times, how ridiculous?! Try and have food in your bag (I have multi packs in my bag, always good for a pick me up for you and your colleague) and don’t let missing lunch become a habit.
- Working in a hospital is like working anywhere, there are many personalities and viewpoints. You won’t get on with everyone and that’s ok. This might be your first ever job and navigating the complexities of the work dynamics will come to you. Just give it time.
- What goes around comes around. We all like to leave on time, but that colleague who is till there at 5pm who you can help may just be the one to help you when you’re equally stuck next time and need to catch a flight. Equally don’t dump jobs on other doctors that you can do or should have done during the day. Think how you would feel being that doctor and if you do hand something over, have a plan,”chase bloods” isn’t a plan…
- Playground cattiness is everywhere in the working world so don’t be surprised if it follows you onto the ward. It takes all sorts, just rise above it, focus on your patient and remember what you’re there to do.
- You’re “just an F1” until an important blood test isn’t checked! Don’t sell yourself short, you’ve worked hard to be where you are and you may be the most junior doctor in the hospital but you aren’t “just” anything. Equally be humble. If you make a mistake or don’t know something ASK. You do no one any favours by pretending to understand something when you don’t. It makes it unsafe and that pretending is a bigger issue than the not knowing. It’s not an exam any more. You won’t be penalised for not knowing but you will for not asking. I was sick of my own voice with all my questions but it’s what’s expected and it keeps patients safe. It’s also how you learn so ask away.
- Speak up. If you aren’t happy about something, feel unsuppourted or have any other concerns tell someone. The foundation team are there to support you and have been doing their job for years. You won’t be the first or the last F1 to feel depressed/tired/wanting to quit medicine. Talking to someone means issues can be adresssed before they build to bigger issues.
- When a lot of your friends are doctors meeting up is a logistical challenge (ahem nightmare). Get some dates set ASAP. You will be working with doctors who went to medical schools all over the country, but your uni friends will just understand you on a different level. They know how well or not so well your medical school prepared you for this F1 gig- talking is therapy!
- Don’t let work take over your life. I refused to which meant I was exhausted at times, I took the work hard play hard seriously but I don’t have regrets! Just remember to schedule in some actual rest time now and again 😉
- F1 flys by. By the end of F1 you will doing things that use to terrify you without thinking. One patient with DKA and another septic, no problem. It’s a steep learning curve, more like a cliff that you are pushed off with your degree…but we all go through it and make it. The chances are, you will too.
- Ultimately look after number 1 which is you because no one else will. It’s not selfish it’s self-full. When you have more to give you are a better doctor. That means sleeping, eating and resting and whatever else keeps you full. For me seeing family is a big part of that and they got me through (as always). Being off sick when you are and not feeling guilty about not going into work is also important. You are only human and you can only do your best. And yes that is good enough.
So there you have it boys and girls, my two cents worth of F1 tips.
Hope it helped someone.