If you’ve decided to pursue a career in medicine, you’ll know it can be stressful. While it’s normal to feel as though you’re under a huge amount of pressure to perform well, there are tips for new doctors to get by. These suggestions can get you through your first weeks and months as a doctor and go on to become a more successful medical professional.
Managing your workload
You will need to be very organized. Make sure you have a system in place for all the things that you need to get done during your workday, prioritizing your most important tasks. If you find that you’re getting overwhelmed, you need to ask for help. Being a first-year resident is tough, and your seniors and attendings know this. They can support you and help you to learn.
It’s important that you ask for help when you need it. It’s natural to feel eager to prove your abilities, but if you can show humility and ask for help, this will be more important. Your colleagues who have more experience than you will feel valued and respected when you ask them for their opinion or advice.
If you’re still new to medicine, they’ll see asking for help as maturity, not a weakness. Be wise about how you use any favors you’re owed so that other people don’t see you as someone who just makes more work for them. Who you ask for help is important too.
Nurses, therapists, and other providers can help you to get more done than you can on your own, but remember that they aren’t your staff. Don’t just assume that because you’re a doctor that they will follow every order you give them.
If they make an alternative suggestion for your patient, listen respectfully and take their opinion into consideration. You don’t have to follow their advice if you don’t think it’s the best course of action, but at least listen to it.
When you’re a new doctor, it’s okay to make mistakes. Although you’re trying your best, sometimes things just don’t turn out the way that you planned. Try not to be too hard on yourself when this happens. As long as you are working hard and doing everything possible to give the best care that you can to your patients, you should feel proud of your efforts. Remember that not every patient you see will love you. Don’t beat yourself up. Just do the best that you can.
Give yourself enough time to learn. A lot of young, new doctors get stressed out because they aren’t up to speed with some procedures or diagnoses.
However, this is totally normal. The purpose of a residency is for you to get better acquainted with a variety of treatments and practice what you have learned. As you’re learning, don’t worry if you don’t know something, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being assertive is a valuable skill, especially as other doctors won’t have the time to chase you to explain things.
Practicing self-care tips for new doctors
Always wear good shoes when you’re working. Supportive shoes should be as important in your uniform as your Uniform Advantage scrubs.
You will be on your feet all day. For doctors, all day really does mean all day.
If you don’t wear properly supportive shoes or insoles, you are at risk of developing long-term back and joint pain.
Also, make sure you stretch often. It can help to practice yoga or calisthenics too.
Doctors are often required to lift and move heavy equipment and patients. If you don’t know how to practice good lift techniques, you could hurt your neck or back.
Make sure you have your own doctor. Doctors can often be tempted to treat themselves. Don’t do this. You need someone who is impartial who will be able to catch things that you aren’t looking for yourself. If something feels off or wrong in any way, have it checked out.
You also need to make sure that you’re making enough time for adequate sleep. Sleep improves your memory and your mood, which are both important for doctors. Proper sleep also reduces irritability. It should be a major priority for everyone, including doctors.
Don’t feel afraid to speak up for yourself. There is no question that the demands of being a first-year resident will be serious.
However, it is important to be able to voice your concerns if you find that things are becoming overbearing. Burnout is a common experience amongst residents. Getting burned out will have a negative impact on you both as a person and as a physician. It will have an impact on your patients too. It’s important to address any issues that you have before they get too far.
All the years that you spend training for your medical degree don’t prepare you for how you will take care of yourself when you start practicing medicine for real. It can help to develop a routine of self-care that helps you to manage stress, as stress is inevitable in a medical career.
There’s no one answer for self-care, but it should be a whole-body approach. It should include nutrition, exercise, mental wellbeing, sleep, and mindfulness.
It’s up to you to take good care of yourself and to make sure that you have the personal resilience to look after your own well-being. Doing so can prevent burnout, so it’s one of the most important tips for new doctors.
As a doctor, depending on your chosen area of specialism, you have to work with the dying or the recently bereaved. There is nothing worse than a health care professional who skirts these issues or who misses the chance to have the right discussion with their patient or patient’s family member.
Remember that there is very little that you can do to take someone’s emotional pain away. When someone is grieving or has been told of their prognosis, it’s okay to let them express their feelings. In fact, this is in their best interests.
You should be an active listener to your patients. That’s a big part of improving your bedside manner.
Listen to any concerns that they may have, and then think carefully about what they have shared with you. To show you are listening and reflecting, say things like, “Ok, I hear you’re saying that you have been experiencing X symptoms, and you are concerned because of Y. Is that right?” Repeating and confirming the details reassures your patient that their concerns are being listened to, accurately communicated, and taken seriously.
Teamwork tips for new doctors
To avoid any delays in your patient receiving their medications and phone calls back to the doctor’s office, make sure all the prescriptions you write, whether electronic or handwritten, have all the important details correct and clearly legible. These details include the name of the patient, the patient’s date of birth, and the name of their doctor (with contact information and DEA number). Also write the name, strength, and quantity of the medication prescribed and the date of their office visit.
If the patient’s insurance needs prior authorization, let the pharmacy know how you handle this. Remember that the pharmacist is part of your team too, so work with them.
Now that you’re out of medical school, it can be hard to find the time to sit down and actually listen. However, you will often find that by listening properly, you will be able to save time in the long run.
Take the time to stop and talk to your patients about how things are going. Ask them about their state of mind, and how they feel about their care.
You will be able to use what you learn as part of your plan of care, discuss your findings with the nurse, and get any more information that they might have found. Combining these two interviews can help you get a fuller perspective on what a patient is experiencing, and make a plan for their care that will be the most effective.
Don’t be afraid to build relationships with your colleagues. Build relationships, and learn to respect people from all parts of the profession is one of the best tips for any new doctor.
Everyone has a role to play in healthcare, and the focus should always be on the patient, not in competition with each other. When you’re fresh from studying and passionate about what you know, remember that the nurses who’ve been working for a decade probably know more. If you’re able to consider other sources, you’ll be successful and nicer to work with.
Keep up the personal connections with your colleagues at your hospital and in the community, and nurses and other staff. Medical professionals all have hard jobs. It helps to have people to talk to about what’s going on at work. Having lunch or meeting after hours occasionally can help to form stronger bonds and stronger teams, so you can better avoid burnout and help each other.
The first year of being a doctor is tough. But with these tips, you can get the most out of it, keep learning, and do your job well. What are some other tips for new doctors?