Our guest blogger James Gill is an F1 doctor. In this series, he writes about his personal experiences of that very special time starting out on the wards as an F1.
Well we’re now 14 days into our new F1′s and so far no one has sunk, there have been a few have fallen overboard from the boat, but they have all been successfully pulled back into the boat by either seniors or other F1′s.
Photo by chrisinplymouthI say boat, but I think tiny little dinghy is more appropriate. For myself even two weeks after being spat out of our sociology focused GP Factory Ship, sorry I mean Medical School, I still felt thoroughly unprepared, and every day it seemed as if there was more work piling up, and that I was going home later and later.
With regard to the progressively worsening home time, I remember the feeling of absolute astonishment and amazement after, having been there alone on the wards for about an hour after everyone else had left, one of the SHOs came up to me and said “What are you still doing here! Right, let’s see what jobs you’ve got left and we’ll sort them together”.
Now why could I have practically hugged this SHO for all he was worth because of those simple words of kindness? Well up until that point, I had been having an astonishingly bad day.
I’d been lambasted by El Diablo for not being the Registrar, yelled at for not knowing where the Registrar was, and finally, talked to in his quietest, angriest voice, with little bits of spittle escaping the corners of his mouth, because it was apparently my fault that the nurses had not weighed any of the new patients, who were admitted last night after I’d gone home. (I think he was also trying to insinuate that the deterioration in the NHS in general was also my fault, but he was having a slightly harder time making that conclusively my responsibility).
I think it’s important that I point out that I didn’t hug the SHO, largely because he was a massive Rugby player who I recognised from the year above me at the medical school – frankly I don’t think it would have gone down too well. But i was more than pleased, that after two weeks of fighting to keep my head above water, and surviving El Diablo’s daily torment, someone had actually noticed I was about to sink, and pulled me back, into the metaphorical dinghy.
Life didn’t improve magically over night, but I did know that there was help. The SHO showed me how to organise things slightly better, and he also told me to try and stand up to El Diablo – but that wouldn’t happen for another week…
So… tips from week 2
- It will take time, but learn to prioritise. You’ve been taught a lot about prioritising, but importantly what things can, at the end of the day, be left until tomorrow morning. Such as writing up bloods for tomorrow’s ward round, they don’t need to be done before you go, come in early and have them prepared for the round. Even if you have to come in 30mins earlier, it’s important to go home and get some rest.
- Make sure your getting enough sleep. I recall one of the “Big Dogs” in our year, I was talking to his house mate on our first Friday out after starting work, and asked where he was, to be told he had been passed out on the couch since 7:30pm.
- Make time for your friends, it’s very easy to get isolated in a cycle of work, home, eat and sleep. Even if it’s just organising to eat lunch together in hospital, it will maintain your support network, as horribly sociological as that sounds.
- Recognise that being on call in the evening is not the same as normal ward work. On calls you do not “treat” patients, you fight fires. As terrible as it is to say it your patients have to “survive” evening and weekends, before Norma service resumes in the morning.
- Finally I’ve said it many times, but it is especially true for on calls – take plenty of food, making sure at least part of it is health, and whilst on call, make time for yourself to stop and eat. You need the break, and you’ll function more efficiently after your return.