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Experiencing New Doctor Week

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Many of us will have experienced ‘new doctor’ week at some point in our practice, for hospital pharmacists this phenomenon usually happens once every four months. In my experience as a junior pharmacist working on a busy surgical ward, I saw junior doctor week as a terrible inconvenience. Medics that I had gradually developed a working relationship with, a successful working relationship that is, had disappeared and had been replaced by this new group of young professionals who seemed utterly inept. “Give him a week or so to settle in” the Sister would tell me. My argument was always that these medics will have the same qualifications as the medics who had left; the F1’s all have an MBBS (or equivalent). What I hadn’t grasped, and this is something that has come to the fore through my PhD studies, is the true value of the experience of day-to-day routine. Experiences is a word associated with specific events in our lives, “that time we climbed Mt Snowden” or “when I travelled around South America”. These experiences are significant life events, which stay with us and influence our day-to-day lives mediated by reflection and nostalgia. But every day, every minute, every second you’re conscious mind is experiencing the world we live in. Actual day-to-day experiences shapes us more quickly. Actions become routines, routines become habits. Our experience of everyday life can rapidly become nothing more than a series of routine events; putting the children to bed, cleaning the bathroom, walking the dog. It’s only when our experiences of everyday life change that we might actually recognise, on reflection, that we have had ‘an experience’.

Relating this back to new doctor week then, the everyday experiences of some foundation year one doctors will be changing significantly this week. The junior doctor who has just started on an acute admissions ward in a busy tertiary care centre, and who frustratingly for you does not know how to adhere to the Trust’s controlled drug prescription guidelines even though he has been a medic since August, may have just rotated from an academic research position investigating genetic neuropathies working; in a lab pipetting left, right and centre and have been up to his eyeballs in polymerase chain reactions. Although he spent 4 or 5 years achieving the same qualifications as your prized previous rotation of junior medics his recent everyday experiences of his working life have clearly had an impact. However, his immediate experiences of everyday life will now be being on your ward and this will rapidly shape and influence him. The advice from our wise nursing sister then, “Give him a week or so to settle in”, rings true.  

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