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Essential Tips for New Doctors: Navigating Your Foundation Year

Communications Team

Communications Team

June 9, 2023


Embarking on a medical career can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. As a new doctor, you are entering a world where continuous learning and growth are paramount. To help you navigate this journey, we have collaborated with experienced doctors to provide valuable tips and advice. In this article, we will explore essential guidelines to ensure a successful start to your medical practice. From self-care to professional development, let's delve into these crucial insights.

  1. Prioritise Your Wellbeing:

As a doctor, your own well-being directly impacts the care you provide to your patients. Make self-care a priority by paying attention to your physical and mental health. Take breaks, get adequate rest, and engage in activities that rejuvenate you. By nurturing your well-being, you will be better equipped to deliver quality patient care.

  1. Embrace Curiosity and Ask Questions:

The medical field is vast and ever-evolving, and no doctor is expected to have all the answers. Embrace your curiosity and don't hesitate to ask questions. Seek guidance from experienced colleagues and mentors when faced with uncertainties. Remember, asking questions is a sign of a dedicated and committed doctor.

  1. Advocate for Patient Safety:

If something seems wrong or raises concerns about patient safety, don't remain silent. Familiarise yourself with the appropriate channels for reporting issues and ensure they are addressed promptly. Take advantage of the resources available to you, such as ethical guidelines and support networks, to navigate challenging situations.

  1. Master Key Processes Early:

When starting a new role, familiarise yourself with the prescribing and referring systems specific to your practice. Understanding these processes early on will help streamline your workflow and ensure efficient patient care. Keep spare copies of paper forms if they are commonly used in your workplace.

  1. Utilise Technology to Your Advantage:

In this digital age, technology can be a valuable tool for doctors. Keep useful information readily accessible on your phone, such as contact numbers for clinical and educational supervisors. Save links to guidelines, drug doses, and referral resources for quick reference. Stay updated with your schedule and who you’re working with and who’s on call, utilse apps like RotaPal to manage your rota. Many healthcare facilities also provide their own apps with helpful information. 

  1. Dress Professionally and Comfortably:

When it comes to your attire during shifts, follow the hospital's guidelines regarding personal protective equipment (PPE). Opt for comfortable shoes and clothing with pockets, allowing you to focus on patient care without distractions. A professional appearance fosters confidence and trust among patients and colleagues alike.

  1. Embrace Compassionate Care:

Introduce yourself to your patients using the "#hellomynameis" approach. This simple gesture creates a compassionate connection and builds trust from the outset. Remember that compassionate care goes beyond medical expertise—it encompasses empathy, active listening, and treating patients as individuals.

  1. Understand Consent and Capacity:

Familiarise yourself with the legal requirements surrounding mental capacity and consent, as these may vary depending on the country you practice in. Stay informed by reading consent guidelines and seek support from ethical resources when applying mental capacity considerations to your practice. Ensuring patient autonomy is paramount.

  1. Embrace Honesty and Accountability:

Medical practice is not immune to challenges and mistakes. When things go wrong, be honest and transparent with patients and colleagues. A sincere apology, coupled with a commitment to rectify any issues, can help maintain trust and confidence in your professional abilities.

  1. Document Thoroughly and Securely:

Accurate and comprehensive record-keeping is vital in healthcare. Take detailed notes to ensure everyone involved in the patient's care has a clear understanding of their condition and treatment. Remember that patient information can be accessed through Freedom of Information requests, so maintain confidentiality and use your NHS email account for patient-related discussions.

  1. Foster Collaboration and Teamwork:

Recognise that you are part of a multidisciplinary team. Take the time to get to know nurses, porters, and ward clerks, as they play crucial roles in patient care. Building a supportive community around yourself fosters teamwork and creates a positive work environment.

  1. Maintain an Updated ePortfolio:

Your ePortfolio is a valuable tool for professional development. Regularly update it to reflect the skills you are acquiring, and actively seek feedback from supervisors and colleagues. Identify areas of the curriculum that pose challenges to you and supplement your learning through relevant e-learning resources.


Starting a career in medicine is an exciting and challenging journey. By incorporating these essential tips into your practice, you can lay a strong foundation for professional success. Remember to prioritise self-care, seek knowledge through questions, advocate for patient safety, and build collaborative relationships. Embrace change, learn from experiences, and continue to grow as a compassionate and competent doctor. The path ahead may be demanding, but with dedication and resilience, you will thrive in the noble profession of medicine.

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