1. Look after yourself
If you don’t look after yourself, you’ll be no good to your patients or yourself. Every year Foundation Doctors have to take time away from the hospital due to burnout. Stress is an expected part of any medical career, but take steps to protect your mental and physical health.
Sleep, eat and exercise! Make sure you do something outside of medicine – join a netball club, find a local football team, sign up for a pottery class, visit mates/family on the weekend.
2. Embrace new skills and experiences
Every day is a school day as an F1. Medical school may seem like endless learning, but nothing compares to ‘on-the-job’ experience. Your foundation years are a great time to safely acquire new skills under supervision.
So when an opportunity to insert a cannula/perform an ABG/assist in theatre/suture pops up – say yes!
3. Forgive yourself
The transition from medical student to F1 is the biggest of your career. It is important to acknowledge that you won’t know everything and that you will make mistakes. Learn from them, reflect on the experience and talk them through with your Educational Supervisor/friends/family.
Most of all – ask for help! I remember being asked to prescribe a sliding scale on my first day of F1 and seriously panicking! Luckily I had an awesome ward team who helped me through it – so if in doubt, ask for help.
4. Get organised early
If you’ve decided what area of medicine you’d like to go into, then get audits and experience under your belt early. Applications come around quickly, so a little forward planning can take the pressure off.
5. Get familiar with Horus
There are so many tick boxes that may seem arduous, but knowing what is expected of you will help you to spread those commitments across the year. Your first ARCP can be really stressful otherwise.
6. Know your rights
Get paid, exception report and hand things over at the end of the day. This will be your first ‘proper job’ for many of you. Know what you are entitled to, know what is not your responsibility, and know who your local BMA rep is when you need advice and support.
7. Be kind to your colleagues
Teamwork is everything. Medicine is a very competitive field, but at the end of the day, we are all here to look after our patients. Helping out on your quieter days (however rare they may be) can make a huge difference. Also, keep an eye on each other; everyone deals with stress differently. Be there for each other – from walks to debriefs in the mess about nightmare Consultants. You are all going through the same thing, and everyone struggles with something, talk and unite in the highs and lows of your days.
8. Approiciate the MDT
Listen and learn from your colleagues in different roles. Yes, you are now a Doctor, but your colleagues in different roles will often have much more experience than you. Respect and learn from them, and it will make your life easier.
9. Take your annual leave
Even if you have no specific plans, get annual leave that maximises your recovery time away from the hospital. Try to remember there is a life outside of the Hospital!
10. Enjoy it!
F1 is a rollercoaster. It is challenging, rewarding and exhausting. But remember, it is a privilege to be part of some of the best and worst days in people’s lives. Take time to enjoy working with incredible people, constantly learning and seeing something new and actually making a difference.