Guest Junior Doctor Blog: Starting on the Shop Floor

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karishma shah

Dr Karishma Shah

Academic Foundation Doctor in Orthopaedics
Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School
Oxford University Hospital


The Weekend Before:

The weekend before starting as an FY1 is always a flurry of emotions…

Daunting, exciting, anxiety-provoking.

It is the 'someday' you were always thinking of, and then suddenly that 'someday' is today. Your parents are probably still bubbling from the excitement of your graduation the weekend before, but you, you are just realising that gone with that ceremony is the sheepish comfort of saying “I’m just the Medical Student”, “I’ll ask the doctor”, “I think I’ll take this day off for study”!

And then, in the blink of an eye, you’re moving house and unpacking suitcases. And you’re trying to find that pretty dress to attend the Doctors’ Mess Ball- with people you've never met before. It feels like Freshers’ again!

As you begin the Shadowing Period:

This is the time the paperwork gets laid on really thick. You need to constantly check your emails because, ready or not (!), there's a landslide of emails coming your way!

Emails on contracts, on working time directives, on parking permits, on salary forms, on how to get IDs and how to use the IT systems…
And a little email on the all-important Statutory & Mandatory training.

At this point, the days have turned into nights and the nights into days and they have all amalgamated into a blur.
But, over a coffee & catch up with your dear friends from medical school, you can regain some perspective. Remember to appreciate just how fortunate you are to be able to work for the NHS- It is one of the greatest institutions in the world, and this must be a tried and tested protocol after-all.

The Shadowing Period:

Recently, the NHS has required all foundation schools to provide a shadowing period for FY1s.
This is the jump-start to your first rotation that you will always be thankful for.
Some foundation schools use time for team-building outdoor activities and others use it to simulate on-calls. But for most, this is a time to be on the wards and gain hands-on experience from the current FY1.
Medical school may have equipped you with the knowledge and techniques, but this is about getting your hands deep and dirty- learning how to answer bleeps, how to request bloods and whether to use a paper or electronic system to prescribe drugs.

Day 1:

The build-up has come and gone and Day 1 is here. 'Black Wednesday' they call it.

But, especially at a time like this, is your first day working for the NHS going to be dark and bleak?

Absolutely not.

Are the stormy clouds of political unrest surrounding the NHS going to follow you for every moment?

Not a chance!

Is that whisper tempting you to become a Management Consultant going to consume you?

No, it will just fade into oblivion.

This is the day you begin taking care of your own patients. You will have to listen to their personal stories, suture their wounded skin, empathise with their most intimate fears. And you will do this as though it were second nature- and that is why you are the people this great NHS is built on the shoulders of. You will become part of a team with the most intelligent, compassionate, dedicated and resilient people.

And as the days and weeks go on you will see that now is the time to write your own journey and all-in-all it will be more than you ever wished 'someday' will be.

So, make sure you get lots of rest and get ready for the ride!


MWF is currently offering junior doctors the chance to win £200 with our Junior Doctor Creative Prize! Submit your entry on the theme of 'The face of a doctor today' and you could be in with a chance of winning the cash prize along with the opportunity to present your entry at our conference in November. 

The competition is open to all and you don't have to be a member to enter! 

Submit your entry (whether it be an essay, poem, photo etc) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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