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Dr Saad Gabr is an Associate Specialist in ear, nose and throat, practicing in Cwm Taf Health Board
Associate Specialists are well trusted in the NHS, with the post allowing autonomous practice. It represents someone who has accumulated a good deal of experience and works with the consultant and the rest of the team. The SAS grade includes two other similar posts Staff Grade doctors and Speciality doctors. All three collectively are known as SAS doctors.
It is widely said that SAS doctors form the backbone of NHS hospitals and if you go to any hospital, you are likely to be treated by a SAS doctor. They are experienced, humble and ready to help. Here is a comprehensive picture of what I may do in any day.
I usually start at 8am and finish between 5 to 6pm. Any day will include some, or all, of the following:
This is usually at the beginning of the day to review patients on the ward. These may have been acute admissions or had elective operations. A nurse and a junior doctor will also be with me. We review every patient and monitor their progress, request more investigations or decide to take them to the operating theatre if necessary. Some will be discharged home.
There is usually at least one clinic a day. I see on average 13 patients in a clinic; some of them are new referrals whilst others are coming for follow up. They are referred mostly by their GP but they could be referred from other wards or from accident and emergency. The clinic lasts for about four hours.
We identify patients’ problem and solve it on the same day or after requesting investigations. I may have a medical student to teach, and junior doctors also like to join in the clinic to observe.
There are at least two operating sessions a week; each lasting about four hours. The majority of operations are elective but occasionally we may have the odd emergency operation. Medical students and junior doctors join in theatres and the atmosphere is usually friendly. Theatre nurses are always wonderful.
SAS doctors are heavily involved in course teaching. This may be for medical students or junior doctors and may be during clinic or theatre time or other dedicated time.
Continuing Professional Development
This is an essential part of our career to add to our skills and knowledge. This takes several forms like reading in the library, attending courses and conferences, online learning and many other things. Some of these courses may be held in London or other locations.
Other patient related activities
This includes signing results for investigations, writing to GPs about patients’ progress or liaising with other specialities in the hospital about all things related to the patient. Sometimes we ring the patient directly if he/she asked to speak to a doctor.
I attend hospital meetings to discuss policies related to patient management. I also organise for an audit meeting, which is held once a month, to look at what was done the month before and to draw lessons from that. It is a useful meeting since all the department members will be there together and discuss all matters.
I am a member of the British Medical Association (BMA) and attend many of its committee meetings. The BMA is the voice and the supporting body for doctors, offering valuable services and defending them. There are many committees arising from the BMA and they look after every aspect of our practice at all levels.
Emergency duties (On call)
I deal with emergency calls and referrals. These shifts are pre-arranged and I do one day in every four. Emergencies could arrive at any time. Some will only need treatment whilst others may need to go to the operating theatre.
This is just a glimpse of my everyday life. As you can see, SAS doctors are usually very busy but I love my job and would always recommend medicine as a career.
What are your day to day experiences working as a doctor?
It is very similar to our day in North Ireland. Staff and patients are very friendly. Regarding my CPD, I committed myself to complete my CCT exam. It is taking most of my life. But I am enjoying as its preparation is keeping very update and competitive at work.
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