Long hours and lack of support top concerns for new doctors

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6 August 2014

Working long hours is the number one worry for new doctors and those still in training, says MDU research.

Working long hours is the number one worry for new doctors and those still in training with over two thirds of junior doctors and medical students (499/704) who responded to a Medical Defence Union (MDU) survey stating it has been a concern to them. Of those responding, around 60% of newly qualified and trainee doctors were also worried about lack of support from more senior colleagues (438/704).

The findings come from a survey of junior doctors and medical students carried out by the Medical Defence Union (MDU), the UK's largest indemnifier of doctors which has been released on the day thousands of newly qualified doctors will start their first job as a doctor in an NHS hospital.

Nearly half of junior doctors (126/277) also stated that they had struggled to maintain a work-life balance since graduating with several reporting that they had struggled to book periods of annual leave.

Dr Richenda Tisdale, medico-legal adviser at the MDU says:

"When doctors first qualify, they face a huge transition from being a student to working in a medical setting where they are responsible for the lives of others. It can be a daunting time for them as they adjust to working what will, for many, be their first full-time job, and they may  also face moving to a whole new area of the country to take up their new role.  

"Junior doctors must remember that they are not alone and that if they have concerns or questions, there are many people they can turn to. Senior doctors in the team have an important role to play but they can also get support from their medical defence organisation such as the MDU. We are here to offer guidance and advice on any ethical dilemmas or concerns that may arise throughout their medical career and junior doctors should not be afraid of using us if they need to at any time, especially in those first few weeks."

The MDU's top tips for newly qualified doctors are:

  • Don't be afraid to ask more senior colleagues questions – they were new once too and will likely be happy to help.
  • Take care of yourself too. Make sure you get enough rest and eat well. If you feel that your health is being affected by stress or the hours you are working see your own doctor and discuss your concerns with your supervisor.
  • Don't be afraid to contact medical organisations you are a member of who can help you with a range of issues. The Medical Defence Union is here to help you with any medico-legal issues you may encounter and can offer advice on issues such as consent, complaints, patient records and social media. 


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