Starting on the NHS frontline as an FiY1

Medical graduate Molly Dineen tells us her thoughts and feelings as she embarks on entering the NHS frontline to help fight covid-19...

"This week I graduated as a doctor three months earlier than expected, from my back garden. To explain how this happened, let me take you back a bit…

On the 29th Feb 2020 I was on a plane to New York, excited for my two month long medical elective which I was due to spend in the USA and South Africa. Just two weeks later I was on a plane home (which was easier said than done!) as COVID-19 began to spread across the globe. I chose to come back to the UK at this point based on advice from the medical school and my instinct that at this time of increasing severity I wanted to be at home, where I could be close to family and friends and where I could be on hand to help.

Once I was back, I was faced with a big decision. Did I want to opt to graduate now, three months earlier than I was due to finish my course, in order to start work as a junior doctor in the NHS? For me, it was a yes.

We have been very lucky at the University of Exeter Medical school to have been given lots of clinical experience throughout our medical degree, so I have now had almost three years in the hospital environment. We completed our final exams at the end of our fourth year, and so this last year has been focused on unofficially stepping into the role of an F1. Although I was due to have another term of shadowing when I arrived home from my medical elective, I think that as a result of all of the clinical experience that I have had up until this point, I am as ready as I will ever be to take on the role.

But this hasn’t been an easy decision. I will be entering the NHS at a very challenging time where staff and resources will be stretched and where the workload will be very demanding. Staff may not have the time that they would normally have to support more junior members of the team and I may not have as much time dedicated to the induction process. I will be putting myself at risk of not only the virus itself but also of experiencing real trauma.  

I have a whole mix of emotions, but ultimately, I just feel proud that the skills that I have gained over the last five years can be used in a way to help. I think that all young people instinctively want to help those more vulnerable than themselves and I feel very privileged to be in a position where I can do so. I just want to do my bit to help and to relieve pressure from the more senior doctors that are already working so hard. I feel confident that I can make a positive contribution to the team and now I am desperate to get stuck in. This is what I have worked so hard for and it’s the ultimate time for all those in healthcare to step up and make everyone proud.

So here I am now graduated as a doctor, having thrown my makeshift mortar board in the air after the first virtual graduation ceremony that the University of Exeter have had. Over the coming weeks I will be starting work in the NHS and now my focus is to prepare for this as best I can. I will be focusing on getting enough rest, eating well, regularly exercising, and keeping up good (virtual) links with family and friends so that I have the support that I need.

I am now one of many who are doing their bit to help the country at this challenging time and I can’t wait to join such an inspirational team."

We wish Molly and all new interim FY1s the best of luck as they start work on the frontline - from all at the Next Step and wider Wesleyan team.