You’ve made it through the doors, you’re settling in – here’s a checklist to make sure you know everything you need to about your first placement.
Where the mess is
The mess, when provided, is an important respite for doctors. It’s useful to know where it is so you have somewhere to go on breaks, know where you’re likely to meet other junior doctors, and where to get coffee without having to fork out £3 every time at the Costa downstairs.
Where to get food
During a 12 hour shift, knowing you can buy more than a granola bar and a Mountain Dew is useful. Scout out your hospital’s café hours and any eateries or grocery shops within walking distance – and figure out how long you’ll have to duck out.
Take a note of any staff offers and reward cards you get – being a doctor has its perks, and you can get discounts at a number of eateries (which may or may not be within walking distance of your hospital – make it your mission to try them all in your downtime).
Where to go to sleep
Hospitals should provide on-call rooms, and sometimes those are free – or your department might provide rest facilities separately. But it’s good to know the details before you need them, or you end up having a sore back the next morning. Learn where the best couches in your mess are, just in case.
Where to go to request radiology
Learn where your radiology department is early on so you don’t get caught out – and make sure you request the right imaging and the right anatomical part. Don’t x-ray the wrong leg!
How to make a referral
New doctors’ jobs can be really heavy on admin, and that includes a lot of referrals. It’s good to ask the F2s around you for tips here, so you know what to say and what the procedure is. It’s useful to listen to your seniors referring where you can.
When to escalate to your senior
Whenever you feel you need support, don’t be afraid to ask – you learn a lot more gently by asking than you do by staying quiet and making mistakes. It’s great to build up a relationship with a senior in your hospital early on, so that you have someone to turn to when you need them. Seniors were new doctors too, after all!
How to look after yourself
Don’t forget that you’re human – make sure that you get time to do you. Take care of yourself and eat, sleep, and take a minute where you need to. Add it to your to-do list if you have to.
It’s good to know when to take a break – you’ll always work better when you’re well-rested, and at a hospital, there’s always work to be done. Report any shifts that overrun or any missed breaks so that it doesn’t happen again.
How to make the most of being a doctor
Being a doctor is extremely rewarding – you get to help people and share life changing moments with them. Don’t underestimate how appreciated you are by your patients – and more importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the ride.