I remember vividly driving in to work for the very first night shift all those years ago. I remember being unimpressed that the secretary didn’t seem to give a monkeys who I was, and being slightly surprised by that. 

The thing you must remember, as a brand new doctor, is that we have all been where you are, we know how worried and scared and eager you are. 

The other thing you need to remember is that this is the first day of a new life, about which you know very little. University has prepared you for Day 1 as an FY1. Everything you have done so far is preparing you for this, the very start. You are now on a non stop journey of learning and developing and improving and you will know more each week, month and year that goes by. Right now, you know very, very little; we know it, the nurses know it and you hopefully have some insight and know it too. 

Here are my tips for surviving and even thriving as a new doctor. 

1. Fluids and diet; bring snacks and drinks and cash (not notes) to buy more snacks and drinks. 

2. Urine output; you need to go to the toilet and pee. If you don’t need to pee then you aren’t drinking enough. 

3. Make a list of common drugs and doses; for surgery this would be painkillers, anti-emetics, esomeprazole and antibiotics. 

4. Make a list of phone or pager numbers that you need for your seniors.

5. If you need help, ask for help. 

6. If someone you are calling for help doesn’t answer after two attempts, go up a seniority level. 

7. If your registrar is scrubbed in theatre and you need her, get some scrubs on and go and find her. 

8. Radiology are horrible to everyone, you’ll get used to it, you might even come to enjoy it (which suggests you will be a great surgeon). 

9. If a registrar is mean to you, they are almost certainly quite junior. These people get their comeuppance eventually. 

10. “I don’t know” is the second best answer you can give. The best answer being the correct one or the truth. 

11. DO NOT tell us you’ve arranged a scan or an x-Ray or a blood if you haven’t done it yet. We will catch you. 

This may well be your first experience of working with people who are not your friends, but are your colleagues and your seniors. This relationship is difficult for some people to deal with and I have had many FY’s fail to adjust and claim that people don’t like them. 

You aren’t here to be liked, this isn’t university, we are not friends; it’s nice to be friendly with your colleagues but it isn’t the case that everyone you meet will act as a friend. 

Finally, as a general rule, if you’ve written two pages in the notes and haven’t phoned a senior, phone a senior. 

So sleep well, don’t drink on school nights and spend some of your money on good food and comfortable clothes. Good luck new doctors, you’ll almost all survive and some of you will be truly excellent.  

(See also Black Wednesday and change over day for more thoughts on this special day in your career!) 


What does feminism mean to a SAHM? 

This week I went out for a meal with 2 friends, one works full time and has 2 children and the other does not work and has 2 children, she is a stay at home mum (SAHM). We had a lovely meal and talked about our plans for the summer and our children.

Then the non-working friend began to complain about her husband, that he does nothing to help at home and leaves all the care and feeding of the children to her. When she went to the toilet my working mummy friend and I both thought she had no right to complain and declared “she doesn’t work! What a cheek, her husband earns all the money, the least she can do is see to the house and cooking”. 

It wasn’t until a few days later that I started to reflect on this attitude; that earning a decent amount of money and working, means I expect my husband to do his share of tasks in our home. Do women who earn no money forego the right to a helpful husband? Clearly they do not. 

Whilst on maternity leave  (a total of three years people, I took every day they would give me) I had a look into this world and found that there are two types of SAHM. There are those who don’t work because it is not sound financially: 3 kids in child care (at a conservative estimate this costs £15000 pa per child) when you only earn £17000 is insane, and those who don’t work because they choose not to either because they are so wealthy (the lunch out, gym member, holiday in Dubai, Range Rover brigade)  or they have chosen to be a full time mum and are spending less money accordingly (home made bread, road running, holiday in a tent, beaten up Mercedes estate brigade). 

Neither of these types of women are any less entitled to their feminism than me. I feel terrible that I wasn’t an understanding and sympathetic ear to my friend when she wanted to discuss her husband’s failings. 

She is in the Range Rover brigade and used to have a fabulous job and gave it up because he told her he would provide for them all. She is no less a feminist than me and yet I was so prejudiced by my own misogynistic views that I have confirmed what she was hoping I wouldn’t; that washing and ironing are her responsibility. 

Also this week a male colleague was disparaging a very senior person that we work with, highly intelligent and successful but allegedly, the recent recipient of new breast implants. “She’s an idiot. She’s got breast implants”. I asked him if he was serious, he said he was.

Being a feminist is a stay at home mum with huge fake tits as much as it is anyone and I’ll stand up for their right to be taken as seriously as I expect to be. 

 Probably a feminist.