Novice Guide

Published: 13/08/2019

Wellbeing and support

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Help, guidance and support 

Starting a career in any new specialty can be a stressful, unsettling experience – this is quite normal. Some novices, particularly those who’ve come from busy jobs with an element of autonomy and independent practice, find being supernumerary and directly supervised at all times, difficult to adjust to.   

There is also a new curriculum to navigate with a number of assessments to complete, particularly in the first six months, which can seem daunting at first. It is really important to remember to complete these as you go along. 

Managing your first solo list, being left alone with an anaesthetised patient, or doing your first on call are other hurdles new starters in anaesthesia may find stressful. It is important to realise that you are not alone. There will always be someone that you can ask for help, advice or support. This may be a more senior specialty trainee or specialist, or the consultant on call.  

You should never feel pressurised to manage a case if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. If you are ever asked to do something that you feel is beyond your level of training it is important that you feel able to ask for help. 

If you do feel that you have been harassed, undermined or pressurised, you should talk to someone about it, as these behaviours are not acceptable. In an on-call environment, the on-call consultant should be informed. Other colleagues to speak to include your educational supervisor or college tutor, or indeed any consultant that you feel you can trust.  

If you feel that you are not coping at work, whatever the reason, it is very important to let someone know, as there are support mechanisms in place in all departments and educational bodies (both regional and national). Your Educational Supervisor or College Tutor are usually the first port of call. If they do not have a solution they will be able to guide you in the direction of someone who can help. Sometimes you may prefer to talk to someone outside of the department, in which case, your GP or Occupational Health may be helpful. In addition, all regional or national education bodies have a trainee support unit to help trainees who need assistance with a wide variety of difficulties. 

Other avenues for help include the British Medical Association (BMA), the Association of Anaesthetists and the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, which all provide support services for doctors. 

Please remember, that whatever the problem, it is far better to seek help and advice, than to bottle things up and struggle on. There are a wide range of people on hand to help. It’s ok not to be ok.