The end of my training finally arrived and I’m preparing to move on to the next (and longest) stage of my career – being a consultant. I asked friends, and Twitter, for advice on becoming a consultant. Here’s a summary of the main #tipsfornewconsultants.
Learn to say ‘no’
This was the most popular piece of advice. General feeling is that you should get to know the job before you start taking on extra tasks (and be wary of being dumped with the unpopular role). Once you know the job you can find what you do want to take on.
But not everyone agreed (and I’m not sure I do). There was also a firm camp saying ‘say yes’ or at least ‘say yes to stuff that’s exciting’
Say YES, share your ideas and make a difference. And look after your trainees they are your future colleagues #tipsfornewconsultants
— Nicholas Mills (@HighSTEACS) June 16, 2018
There is a balance between saying say no to everything and taking on to much, and the key is probably this. It is ok to say no, but make sure you aren’t closing down future opportunities
It’s ok to say No, but avoid shutting out future opportunities.
— Matt Sztajnkrycer (@NoobieMatt) June 15, 2018
2. Your learning is not over
Just because you start being a consultant clearly doesn’t mean you know everything. Don’t succumb to the pressure of having to pretend you know everything because of your title.
You will learn at least as much as you did in your 1st year of training in your 1st year as a consultant! Be patient, learn and enjoy!#tipsfornewconsultants
— Anika Kumar, MD (@freckledpedidoc) June 15, 2018
Never be afraid to ask for advice
Never stop asking questions, especially when you think you’re supposed to be the one with the answer. #tipsfornewconsultants Good luck @TessaRDavis
— Edward Snelson (@sailordoctor) June 15, 2018
Although you rarely see it happening as a trainee, consultants ask other consultants for advice all the time. You’re not an island. #tipsfornewconsultants
— David Anderson (@expensivecare) June 14, 2018
Even more so, people really do appreciate being asked questions by their consultant colleagues. It makes them feel respected and valued too, so if you look at it another way – you are doing them a favour by asking their advice.
3. You don’t need to prove yourself
As trainees, we are used to changing jobs every six months and feeling the need to prove ourselves. Try to let this go as you start your new job. You got the job because of who you are so keep doing what you are doing.
Be the same person they appointed! Keep asking advice, be prepared to give it. Do the basics well and don’t automatically say no to everything – some of it will be fun and lead to new things
— Lesley Kay (@GenQ5Lesley) June 16, 2018
4. Be nice
Respect the contributions of your team of all seniority – everyone has something valuable to contribute and it’s your job to bring that to the surface. Looks after your juniors – teach well, give them breaks, rewards success. And remember what it was like to be a junior doctor.
Remember every aspect of those that inspired you during training & be like them. Remember every detail of those that demoralised or demeaned you & don’t be like them. Get a work email to stay at work. Book a monthly reward (spa day, nice restaurant, etc). #tipsfornewconsultants
— Seb Gray (@SebJGray) June 15, 2018
Work on your relationships with your colleagues – this will impact your happiness and the happiness of the whole staff body.
Please remember what it’s like to be a junior and keep the compassion for them and their experience. It seems it’s easy to forget.
— Emily (@eb6483) June 15, 2018
Learn people’s names.
Learn names, meet people from other specialties, porters, radiographers etc. You know this already but having met them before you call them to resus in a hurry will def help that interaction #tipsfornewconsultants
— David Sinton (@sintydavid) June 15, 2018
Importantly, bear in mind that your mood will control the department
– Your mood will control the department, you’re happy the dept will be happy
– Don’t email angry/tired/hungry. If you have a doubt don’t press send
– You’ll ask more questions of colleagues than you ever did as a reg
– You have nothing to prove
– Have a mentor in another specialty
— Rob Greig (@drrobgreig) June 15, 2018
5. Observe email etiquette
Plenty of people are firmly of the view that you shouldn’t get work email access on your phone and should not reply to emails out of hours (protecting the home life time of your colleagues as well as your own). I think this is tricky advice, particularly in EM where there isn’t really any ‘out of hours’. Personally I do check my emails from home as being on top of my task list improves my wellbeing and allows me to relax at home. So it’s each to their own. But certainly make it clear that you don’t expect colleagues to reply unless it’s suitable for them to do so.
And of course, some basic rules regarding not sending rash or knee-jerk emails…
Excellent advice ! Don’t email your colleagues when angry/ very late at night/after a glass of wine and especially beware the reply to all. I save my angry emails to draft and wait 24 hours (mostly they remain unsent). Often I can’t remember what I was so cross about…
— Claire Woods (@woodslisac) June 16, 2018
6. Remember tips for tea time
Tea seems to be a good focus for making friends, supporting colleagues, and being kind. I received lots of very specific tea-related advice.
Find a nice colleague who makes a good cup of tea. Make them a cup whenever you make one (don’t even ask) and you’ll find tea at your desk often :-)) #tipsfornewconsultants
— Dr Annabel Price (@Annabel_C_Price) June 15, 2018
That’s a real thing. Know how every member of your team likes their beverage. A Dulux Taupe colour chart is an ideal aide-memoire.
— Kathryn Mannix (@drkathrynmannix) June 15, 2018
7. Find a mentor
You need support, find a mentor, and colleagues to talk to. Make sure you have a ‘failure friend’ who you can speak to when things aren’t going well. This can be someone in your department, or elsewhere – even in another specialty or a professional mentor.
Mentor outside your specialty (most important) , and someone within. Take both opinions with a pinch of salt
— Nicola Watson (@drnicwatson) June 15, 2018
Start building your peer support network on day 1, never try and go it alone just cos you’re the boss. Ultimately you carry the can, but it’s easier with support.
— Grumpy Old Doc (Retired) (@GrumpyOldDoc) June 15, 2018
In spite of what I used to worry about in the middle of my training, the challenge of being a consultant probably isn’t going to be the clinical work.
Listen, a lot. Observe, a lot. The clinical bit is easy. The hard bit is to really understand how to get things done/changed. Be mindful of how long it can take to change anything and explore the ‘history’. If you haven’t already done it get your MBTI done. Good luck!
— Dr Emma Hosking (@DrEmmaHosking) June 15, 2018
Thanks Tessa – this was great.
Made me think it was all good advice for an ‘old’ consultant…… and hence I read with interest