How time flies - I have just got home from my last shift as an FY1! As I mentioned earlier, I was one of the poor sods who started on nights. This seems to be a pattern for me - as I started my second job on nights too, and tomorrow I start my first FY2 job on nights... Despite this run of frankly appalling luck in the rota department (I also did long day Christmas day and nights over New Year), I have had a pretty good year. I have no doubt that newly qualified doctors up and down the country are now anxiously preparing for starting work tomorrow, so I thought I'd write down a few survival tips which I've found useful.
In no particular order, my #tipsfornewdocs
- Ask where things are early on. In a difficult/stressful situation with a sick patient, you don't want to be running around like a headless chicken trying to locate the ECG machine/resus trolley/cannulating equipment etc. Hopefully all of the new FY1s will have done some shadowing on the wards they will be working on so should know this, but for future jobs, find out where all useful things are as soon as you possibly can.
- When a consultant/registrar asks you to request an investigation, clarify exactly what they are looking for. You are unlikely to convince radiology to perform a CT scan unless you have a very good reason - and "my consultant asked for it" is not a good reason!
- If inserting a new cannula or taking a gentamicin level at 5am, check whether the patient is due any other bloods in the morning - they'll thank you for taking them off at the same time and avoiding them being stabbed a second time!
- Find time to eat/drink. You may think you're being efficient by working through lunch but if you then end up fainting and having to go home or being admitted to hospital with urosepsis (and yes, those things have happened to F1s I know) things will be a whole lot more behind than if you'd just taken 20 minutes to have a sandwich and a coffee.
- Keep up with your friends and maintain a social life. Sometimes rotas will mean you don't see friends for months at a time, and working nights and weekends means you'll have to turn down invitations to nights out. Make an effort to socialise when you can. Whilst I wouldn't advocate getting horrifically drunk the night before a shift, popping out for an hour or two rather than missing out entirely may just keep you sane.
- Invest in some decent curtains. There is nothing worse than being exhausted between night shifts but not being able to sleep because it's too bright.
- Be nice to the nurses. Sometimes you won't see eye to eye on things, but be polite and friendly anyway. They're the ones who can make your life a misery if they so choose! Also, they're often very experienced and will have a good idea of what particular consultants like doing in certain situations, so befriend them and listen to their suggestions.
- Feed people. Specifically, your senior colleagues. If you become known for bringing in cupcakes or sweets on a regular basis, people tend to look more favourably upon you.
- If you are asking for an urgent review from another specialty, saying you're phoning on behalf of Prof/Dr/Mr Consultant gets you taken a whole lot more seriously than just saying you're the FY1 (once resulted in the grumpy neuro reg sending his consultant to review someone in 20 minutes).
I'm sure I'll think of many more - feel free to leave other suggestions as comments and I'll edit this and add them in (with credit to the author).
Best of luck to everyone in their new jobs tomorrow, but especially the new FY1s - you'll be great!