Mary Agnew, the GMC’s Assistant Director of Standards and Guidance, welcomes new F1 doctors to the medical register, and during these challenging times, highlights some of the key resources we provide to help you in your career as a doctor.
Welcome to the profession. You join at a time when the health service has never been more valued or more needed. You join at a unique moment, never having anticipated finishing medical school like this, without the usual celebrations and fanfare. You join following years of hard study, years of learning (about yourself as well as academically), years of frustrations, years of dreams.
You join as a diverse group, with many varied experiences behind and ahead of you. Doctors of different faiths and of none; doctors representative of each and every community; doctors of different sexualities; doctors with disabilities; doctors who have experience of mental health issues; doctors whose parents or even grandparents were doctors too; doctors who are the first in their family to go to university; doctors who went straight into medical school as school-leavers and doctors who trained later in life and have families of their own. Each and every one of you is welcome and valued.
You join a service that is leading the fight against the coronavirus threat. You join colleagues who are juggling disrupted lives alongside many long hours of work. You join at a time when you may not always be able to give each patient the quality of care and time you want to provide.
We don’t expect you to have to go it alone. Your colleagues are there to help induct, support and debrief you. Please don’t hesitate to ask when you’re not sure. It’s also ok not to be ok all the time, and talking can help: the BMA has a 24/7 counselling line for all doctors and medical students (not just BMA members). The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has pulled together key tips and resources to support your mental health and wellbeing. We all make mistakes and have days that don’t go well. Reflecting on and learning from these is key and these 10 key points from our reflective practitioner guidance can help you do this.
Communication skills matter more than ever. You are a leader now, and you work in a team made up of many professions and roles, all bringing skills, courage and commitment. Together, they’ll give you great strength for the task at hand.
Doctors change lives, from good births to good deaths, through living well with long-term conditions. Like most of us, I have many deeply emotional personal tales about the impact of the NHS on me and my family, as well as memories of a lighter nature. Even those small interactions matter and make a real difference to the people you help.
A few years ago, my eldest son managed to impale the eye of a fat sewing needle into the top of his big toe (it’s a long story.) We were treated in A&E by a newly qualified doctor who was clearly a bit nervous and checking back with his seniors about what to do. Despite nerves and inexperience, he was completely fabulous, making my son so at ease and distracted that he didn’t notice the moment of removal. And moreover, his health warnings about drugs (in case the effects of Entonox were a little too pleasurable) seem to strike home to this day, for which I am continually grateful.
Even in these times, many of you will still be dealing with the unexpected, with weird accidents, worried parents and with the more routine areas of medicine.
We have lots of resources on our ethical hub to help you, and guidance on a range of areas, some of which you will hopefully already be very familiar with. Our responses to some of the COVID-19 questions you’ve been asking are here and we also have a wide range of other resources on our ethical hub, helping you deliver good care to people with learning disabilities for example, or supporting you in speaking up about any safety concerns.
Whether you find yourself in the eye of the storm, or dealing with the more prosaic eye of a needle, we welcome you to the profession and wish you a fulfilling journey ahead. You will save lives and transform lives. Thank you and good luck.