Top Tier Tips for Starting Work

Starting Work Top Tips

Hitting the ground running when you start FY1 is an important topic here at The Next Step, and over the years, our panellists and featured Junior Doctors have shared many pearls of wisdom with us. From organisational and professional skills, to relationships and well-being, we’ve cherry picked the very best into this article – consider them the ‘top tier top tips’ for starting work.

Work smarter, not harder

Time is limited while on shift, and many Junior Doctors have found useful ways to make sure their focus is on the most important tasks at hand.

  • Capitalise on the opportunity to shadow current F1s so you don’t have to figure too much out for yourself. Take in everything you can - from where handovers take place to how to print out lists. And remember - No question is too daft!
  • Complete administrative tasks in advance so you’ve got one less thing to do when you’re busy. This could include pre-filling forms with simple details like consultant name, hospital name, ward and date.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues such as nurses and clinical support workers to pick up any tasks that they may be able to support with.

“Having a system and sticking to it is the best way to ensure you don't miss anything important. Outgoing FY1s are also useful as they may give you additional tips on how to survive!” Dr Michael Monteith

Look after number 1

With your focus being on your patients’ wellbeing for much of the day, it’s important not to neglect looking after yourself - both at work and after your shift has finished. Self-care means different things to different people, so figure out what works best for you.

  • Packing a proper lunch and taking yourself away from your working environment to enjoy it in peace means you’ll return to your shift with more energy and a clearer mind.
  • Going to a group class at your local gym is a great way to combine seeing friends and getting some exercise in if you’re pinched for time.
  • You might need to invest in blackout blinds and good earplugs if you’re to get a good sleep between night shifts.

“I remember one really busy day on the ward when the registrar asked whether I'd like to come for a coffee. I was shocked; with so many TTHs (To Take Home Medication) to do, how could we take 10 minutes to have a coffee? She said, 'you will not be able to look after patients properly if you do not look after yourself'. This stuck with me.” Dr James Glasbey

Nurture your relationships  

There’s no doubt that starting F1 will be a stressful experience, but the people around you – both your colleagues at work, and your friends and family at home – form an important support network.

  • Approach every job as if it’s what you want to do, and you’ll find yourself getting more out of the experience. Your colleagues will appreciate your enthusiasm and might go that bit further to help you and give you opportunities.
  • Every member of the team is important, so treat one another with compassion and respect. Always be polite – the nurse might not know how busy you are, and vice versa. If you have a quiet moment, offer your support to others – even a cup of tea can go a long way!
  • Book your annual leave early so you can commit to plans with loved ones. Be flexible with swapping shifts and make sure the favour goes both ways. Communicate with friends and family that you are busy, and make plans in advance. Why not compare diaries at every meetup so you can book the next before you leave?

“A life-changing heart transplant operation cannot happen if there is not a cleaner to clean the theatre, or a caterer to provide nutrition to the postoperative patient. Treat every member of the team with respect, and the ward environment will be a nicer place for everyone, especially you!” Dr James Glasbey

Finally, most importantly - Enjoy your year!