The Changing of The NHS Guards

At the strike of midnight last night, that was that – I was no longer a Foundation Year 1 (FY1) junior doctor. My time as the junior guardian of the NHS trenches, carrier and organiser of mountains of paperwork, scan-result chaser extraordinaire, absorber of all blame, and patient vampire (for the endless blood tests required) has come to an end.

Suddenly, from today, August 6th 2014, I was a Foundation Year Two Doctor, aka Senior House Officer (SHO) or “Senior-Ho” (an informal title that I was perhaps less happy about, with its endless opportunity for misinterpretation). This has a meaning attached to it that I may be yet to understand – hence my happy and most likely naïve reaction to leaving my FY1 post. For with this SHO post comes hidden traps – more responsibility, more accountability, more expectation and most likely the first person that the FY1 on my team may look to for advice on how to treat the patient. I however relish this – an opportunity to stretch my wings a smidge more, focus that little bit more on the medicine, rather than whether I have the 30 sets of clinical patient notes organised and ready for the ward round, while simultaneously taking bloods from 3 patients, answering the bleep, and trying to call that random consultant from another hospital with half a story about a patient at your consultant’s request (all in the painful knowledge that you know they will most likely bite your head off)….all duties of an FY1.

If you also read my blog entry before this, you may have felt it had a slightly negative (‘sad’, as my mum put it) undertone to it, layered between the printed words. You would have been right – I was stretched to an inch of my ability in my last job and drained both physically and emotionally – making me question everything about the job. This saddened me in two ways – one in that any job should do this to a person but probably more impacting on my mood was that I realised perhaps I wasn’t up to it – that it has beaten me. I hate to lose. I still have my doubts, and still step into the forthcoming year with caution and my wits about me but I must say I feel a huge sense of relief; I have after-all survived the year (and that very hard final rotation) with most of my faculties intact (still single though, much to my disgruntlement), and feel that tight suffocation lesson its grip a little.

For all the new FY1s out there starting I would give one personal message and one from someone much wiser than I. From me I would say, don’t ever let people tell you that you are worthless, or that you are incompetent, and never ever let that bring you down for more than a heartbeat or question yourself as you lay in bed in the dead of night – you have worked so incredibly hard to get to where you are – so be proud and keep that bloody chin up. And from the man himself, Winston Churchill, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

In this case, the ‘enemy’ is your own self doubt when people try to make you question yourself.

On a final note, this made me smile – it came up on my phone this morning at 8am. I had obviously set a reminder to myself…..I’m not sure why I set it…it wasn’t like I would forget!


To another year in the NHS….

Dr Nick


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