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Learning on the job: My top tips

Post date: 18/06/2019 | Time to read article: 1 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 18/05/2020

By Dr Charles Brantly

  1. The importance of good communication – Sometimes the most serious mistakes in hospital are the result of poor communication. By communicating clearly and accurately to everyone involved in a patient’s care, you can avoid serious complications.

  2. Note-keeping is essential – Good note-keeping not only makes it easier for colleagues but it also gives you a better grasp of each case as a whole, not to mention safeguarding your practice should it be questioned.

  3. Highlight errors – During a procedure one particular error occurred even after all the safety checks had been performed. Our solution was to highlight this event to management and change the guidelines appropriately.

  4. Learn from senior teaching – Registrars take particular pleasure in watching their juniors carry out procedures successfully. Learn from those with experience whenever possible.

  5. Re-assess your diagnosis – It is good practice to re-evaluate a diagnosis, even if it has been made by a senior colleague.

  6. Give yourself time – Pressure comes in many forms, but none more so than time. You cannot do a proper job if you are rushed off your feet, so do whatever it takes to give yourself more time with your patients.

  7. Learn from your cases – Whether it is a rare genetic condition or a routine infection, each case is a learning opportunity. Learning is both easier and more relevant when related to real patients.

  8. Know your patients – Consultants love nothing more than a well-informed junior doctor. Keep your ears to the ground and know your patients by name.

  9. Dealing with death is part of life– Don’t leave it to the bereavement officer to talk to the relatives of a deceased patient. Relatives prefer a familiar face in difficult times.

  10. If at first you don’t succeed – As junior doctors we expect to be challenged and to learn new things. However, we don’t always expect to fail. Whether it’s a tricky cannula or your first arterial line, the worst thing you can do is give up.

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