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!) 


4 thoughts on “#tipsfornewdocs

  1. Love this. I started working in January but everything you said is SO TRUE. I especially like the bit about friendliness and friends. I struggled a bit with that because I really like friendliness. I’m getting used to it now.
    That said, I have had some great and friendly mentors. There should be a special place in heaven for registrars who are patient with interns on their first call. And their second. And their tenth (cough).
    Oh, and yes for peeing. But unfortunately some staff loos are really gross (is this a worldwide phenomenon?).

    • Our toilets are clean, apparently the boys can be a bit grim. The professional relationship part is so hard to figure out, I found it quite hard to sort out who “work me” was. They don’t prepare you for that very well, but I suppose that is where role models and mentors come in. It was 15 years ago that I started! Aargh! I’m getting so old.

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