10 Survival Tips for F1 (Part 2)

Here is another list of 10 tips for surviving F1

  1. Don’t do things just because you feel pressured. You’re new, you don’t know all the rules yet. If something feels wrong, then there’s probably a legitimate reason why. Don’t be pushed into signing something or giving a medication you’re not comfortable with. I was asked to prescribe an anti-emetic that I didn’t know. The nurse told me the route and the dose and gave me the prescription chart. I respect that the nurse knows her stuff, but I wasn’t comfortable just signing off on a drug I’d never heard of before. It might be hard but take a moment to step back and pause. Say something like ‘OK, let me look into it’ and move away from whoever it is that’s piling on the pressure.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say no. No doesn’t come easy to me. I feel like I’m being rude or inconvenient but sometimes you have to be clear. It’s hard and it gets even more difficult depending on who you’re saying it to. I talked about one experience here where I had to say no to a consultant. Hard. Something like ‘sorry, I’m not comfortable doing that.’ I’ve learnt to say no more and more on my current placement. I’m often left working on my own on the ward and the nurses will often bleep me as the first point of call for every query and I’ve had to apologise and redirect them to someone else.
  3. Book annual leave and plan things ahead of time. If you need to have a certain weekend off for a prearranged event that is non-negotiable, make sure you’ve looked at the rota way ahead of time and made swaps where necessary. A lot of people miss annual leave days. Don’t let it be you. Don’t just rely on emailing the coordinator to warn them, a lot of the time that doesn’t work.
  4. You’ll be under a lot of stress. The things you’ll have to do and experience won’t be easy. They’ll come home with you. Exercising, meditating, drawing anything that makes you feel good and takes your mind off work is non-negotiable. Whatever it is that you do, don’t let it slip. You’ll need it now more than ever.
  5. You don’t know everything. Be comfortable saying ‘I don’t know’. You’ll be working with other health professionals who’ll be able to help. You’ll get that one job from the ward-round which will take ages to sort out. I’ve been there, going round and round in circles. Sometimes, it’s just easier speaking to someone directly who might know the answer. If the query is about a drug, ask a pharmacist. They might be able to help you in seconds, if not, they’ll know how to get the information. Use the team around you, it will save you a lot of time.
  6. Just as above, nurses can be super useful especially in the beginning. They can help fill the gaps left behind from the long induction you’ll be made to sit through. They’ve been working longer than you have and know how the hospital works: how to request scans, where the family service office is etc. In the beginning it’ll be overwhelming and unless you’ve worked in that hospital before it can take a while to learn ‘the system’.
  7. Be cautious. Not only are you a new colleague, you’re also a new doctor. In my experience, I think it’s meant that some members of staff feel they can take advantage or treat me differently than they would a more senior doctor. I’ve not had too much trouble and this is just my opinion. But be respectful (particularly with nurses) and be patient. They outnumber you.
  8. There will be a lot of pressure on you to do 5 things at once. Some things can wait, some things can’t. There would be times nurses would hound me for discharge letters and act like it was the most important thing, taking precedent over everything else and that’s rarely the reality. But in the beginning when I didn’t know any better, it made me feel so overwhelmed. I would get it from all sides: cannula, discharge letter, pharmacist. Everyone wants something and now. You get used to it. You prioritise.
  9. There might be a time when you need to rely on your documentation and at the very least, you want to be able to read what you’ve wrote. You’re going to be seeing so many patients, you won’t be able to remember what happened with every single one of them.
  10. Finally, ASK. Ask. Ask. Especially in the first few months, everyone expects you to know nothing. This is the best time to play that part. I used to ask the medical registrar the simplest of things but she made me feel comfortable enough to approach her. You’re not working at a desk making a PowerPoint presentation, you are caring after real people with real conditions. Don’t fall into the trap of being silent.

Bonus

  • Question everything. If someone asks you to do something, ask why. I’ve been in so many situations where I’m asked to do something, I go on my merry way until I’m questioned and I realise I’m not really sure what the rationale was. Trust me it makes it that much easier to convince someone to do a scan or to review a patient if you know the questions you want answered. Apparently ‘because my consultant wants it’ isn’t a good enough reason.

These are all based on my experiences as a F1. My colleagues could relate to some of them but maybe not all of them. But I hope this goes some way to make this year a tiny bit easier. Good luck to everyone starting a new F1 post. You’ve done amazingly well to get this point. If you found this useful, please share. And comment below if you have any questions.

 

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