By Rebecca Mills
Another suitcase, another day. What characterises the early years is the rotational nature of foundation training.
There will be some rotations you enjoy more than others. All of them will give you a slightly different approach and view of medicine. Sometimes it’s astounding just how different medicine can look in the practice of different specialties – how we can all convene in one hospital and yet have such drastically different experiences in our day-to-day working lives.
Starting a rotation, I found the most important aspect to be preparation beforehand: the minutiae and logistics that make the transfer to another hospital as smooth as possible. Consider parking if using a car, booking accommodation and collecting the keys in advance, the cost of bills, the proximity of your accommodation to local grocery stores and the hospital. Consider visiting before your planned move to get a feel for the area.
During the placement, I have found it useful to compile a list of things to find out during the induction period. Exploring the hospital and learning how to get from A to B; where the cafeteria, washroom and water fountains are; the codes and locations of changing rooms for attending theatre; location of operating theatres, radiology and outpatient clinics. Particular quirks of the hospital: how to bleep, useful extension codes, emergency protocols.
At the end of the day, life really is what you make of it and, often, everyone is in the same boat.Rebecca Mills, junior doctor
Make requesting logins a priority – it always takes longer than you think. Learn how to access patient records and imaging; get to grips with software specific to that specialty; sort out trust email addresses; complete your induction e-modules, induction meetings and paperwork. Learn how to access your payslips, and become familiar with the library and IT rooms.
Last but not least, consider recreational activities in your area and how you will fill your time outside of work. Activities I enjoyed while rotating included rock climbing and exploring the local scenery.
Being able to wander and discover unfamiliar places with friends made along the way – sharing these experiences together and feeling the bonds between us becoming stronger – was one of the most rewarding and pleasant surprises of my journey. For at the end of the day, life really is what you make of it and, often, everyone is in the same boat: sometimes a little homesick. But inevitably you’ll begin to settle in – maybe even form a new, second family and a ‘home away from home’.
When it comes time to rotate again, as one of my previous consultants summarised, quite beautifully: it was wonderful to be there, but I’d learnt what I needed to learn and taken from the rotation the skills I needed to acquire, and now I must strive further – onwards to new heights, new places and new challenges.
Possibly what I found to be the greatest surprise of all, is that it actually is a small world after all. Friends you thought you might never see again can pop back into your life unexpectedly, in the most random of occurrences and places, and so in the end, it really isn’t so much ‘goodbye’, but ‘till we meet again’.
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