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Tips for new consultants


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.


  1. 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’


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



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.

Never be afraid to ask for advice

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.



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.

Work on your relationships with your colleagues – this will impact your happiness and the happiness of the whole staff body.

Learn people’s names.


Importantly, bear in mind that your mood will control the department



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…



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.


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.


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.




  • Tessa Davis is a Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at the Royal London Hospital and a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.


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1 thought on “Tips for new consultants”

  1. Thanks Tessa – this was great.

    Made me think it was all good advice for an ‘old’ consultant…… and hence I read with interest