Foundation Doctors – 7 Top Tips for 7th August

1. Take a moment

Relax, be confident and enjoy the start of your medical career. You’ve worked hard at medical school and now it’s time to put that into practice. No one expects you to know everything and there’s plenty of help when you need it. Patients trust you and will share their private moments with you, when they feel most vulnerable. What they expect and need more than anything is that you listen and try to understand.

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2. Know what you don’t know

This is crucial for every doctor: knowing what you don’t know so that you can look it up, ask for help, and learn for next time. Much of your work will be routine, and the diagnosis and treatment may well be driven by protocols and patient pathways. Understanding the limits of what you know, and developing your skills are probably the key elements of your first year as a doctor.

3. Make friends with the IT

The few hours of pain at the start of your job that it takes to get to grips with EPR, PACS, and the other systems you use will make all the difference. There’s no getting away from having to spend some time in front of a screen, but the more efficient you can be, the more time you can spend doing the interesting stuff.

4. Choose your Channel

Everyone who works in a hospital or a clinic can feel swamped with calls, bleeps and emails. Choose your communication channels with care, and phone people for things that are both urgent and important. Use concise emails for things that can wait a few days. Establish the best ways to communicate with your team, your colleagues and your supervisor. Many trusts are now using secure messaging apps that can connect teams and colleagues, so see what’s available.

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5. Nurses usually know best

The way doctors and nurses work together is continually evolving, and in many specialist roles, nurses operate as independent practitioners. You’ll learn to navigate the responsibilities you have as a doctor, especially around assessing sick patients and prescribing, alongside the experience and skills that nurses have. They’ve usually seen scenarios many times before, that you’ll encounter for the first time, so ask for advice to sense check what you’re doing.

6. Learn from Referrals

As a Foundation doctor, you’ll spend a lot of their time asking for and chasing specialist opinions on your patients. Whenever you can, try and be there when the Haematologist, Gastroenterologist or Cardiologist comes to see them. If you can, present the history and outline the test results. It’s a great opportunity to learn – aside from that, they’ll appreciate it, and you might be inspired about your own career!

7. MedShr your cases

It’s worth taking a few minutes to share the experiences you’ve had with colleagues and supervisors. MedShr the interesting ECGS, x-rays, scans and clinical stories that you see, and widen your exposure by discussing what other doctors around the country – and beyond – have shared. Taking the best of what Foundation doctors MedShr gives you exposure to a wider range of patients than you could ever see in person.

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