Being an international junior doctor in the NHS

What happens on a ward round

Location: UK
Audience: International doctors
Updated: Wednesday 19 June 2024
Topics: International doctors

On ward round, you will review each patient under the care of your consultant with the rest of the team. A nurse may join you on the ward round so that she is updated on the clinical plan.


The patient list

A patient list identifies all of the patients belonging to your team, where they are located and their key clinical details eg presenting complaint and investigation results.

When reviewing each patient, as well as asking the patients how they are feeling, their prescription chart and observation chart will be reviewed. One of the team will be documenting the ward round consultation in the patient notes.

At the end of the ward round, the investigations and plans for each patient will be reviewed and tasks allocated. This is an excellent opportunity to make sure you understand the reasoning behind the plans made for each of your patients.


What to do when you're on call


Prescription charts may be written electronically or on paper in outpatient clinics or for inpatients on wards.

Each chart has a section for:

  • the patient’s details
  • allergies
  • regular, once-only and 'prn' (as needed) medications as well as intravenous fluids.

Make sure you document any drug allergies and the reaction experienced.

When writing a prescription:

  • write the generic drug name clearly as well as the dose (including units)
  • write the frequency of administration
  • write the route and times at which the drug should be given (speak to the nurses on the ward if you are unsure when drug rounds occur)
  • sign the entry, including your name and bleep number
  • if you are changing a prescription, cross out the original clearly and then write a new prescription.


Discharge summaries

Discharge summaries are essential to summarise what has happened to a patient in hospital, as a written record for the patient and their GP.

It includes:

  • the patient’s details
  • consultant team whom the patient was admitted under
  • presenting complaint
  • investigation results and diagnosis
  • any procedures/treatments given
  • medications to continue taking at home
  • any follow up care that has been organised with the hospital.

As always, make sure you include your name, role and bleep number.