It is that time of the year again, changeover for the departments. But perhaps the most anxious people are the ones due to start their budding careers in medicine. A paid shadowing period for the new starters are now par for the course, and usually takes place just before the dreaded Wednesday. Here I share some things you may wish to pick up during your own shadowing.
The medical knowledge will come with experience
Learning to manage complex cases and applying medical knowledge to clinical scenarios will come with time. No one will expect you to know everything on day one. You may be thrown in the deep end by starting on an on-call or night shift, but your SHO and registrar will be understanding of this and should be willing to help. What they would expect you to be able to do is how to carry out the tasks they allocate you.
Learning the logistics
Unless you have rotated in the trust before, you are unlikely to be familiar with the various systems. This includes documentation (electronic/paper records), referral pathways, escalation route, common bleeps/extensions for important contacts, the list goes on. You need not memorise all of these, but should learn during your shadowing/induction where to find these information when you need it. For example, in my trust, the referral pathways is shared via a google document which is regularly updated, and the contact numbers are accessible through the Induction mobile application. You could also ask about things outside your actual job like car parking, nearby restaurants and where to get scrubs.
I would say normal days in most wards are generally quite reassuring to start with. There is more senior support and all you need to do is turn up and people will probably be happy to show you the ropes. For on-calls, you would want to know in advance what your shift involves, where to attend handovers and how many SHOs/fellow F1 you have with you. The current F1s will be experts on all these and would probably be happy to provide you some extra tips for surviving these long shifts.
Ask for access
Whilst essential things like IT access to the patient records and a trust email should be provided to every new starter, there may be some things that are department-specific and will probably need extra help to obtain access. For example, if you are starting on surgery, consider asking for access to theatres in case you need to find your seniors there. It would also be worthwhile asking about additional logins you need: PACS for viewing radiology images, referral/investigation request portals etc.
If you are particularly keen (like some of the incoming F1s who have been shadowing me), you can ask about any research and teaching opportunities within the placement/hospital. Projects can take a while to plan out and to get to a hard endpoint like publication or presentation so it is useful to know in advance to help you plan. You can also learn about the consultants/supervisors who are most friendly and approachable for these opportunities.
Good luck, and all the best to the incoming FY1s! You will do just fine and try to enjoy your work!