A leap into the unknown…

My name is Giancarlo, and I have spent the last six years at medical school, and in a few weeks I am going to be starting life as an FY1.

While there is a huge buzz of excitement about the start of my career, I am also terrified about being thrown headfirst on to the wards. I am kicking off my career as a working doctor on night shifts in a major city centre hospital – the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

I am taking very seriously the responsibility of having patients’ wellbeing under my care, and it is weighing heavily on me. I think it will be good to rip the plaster off and jump straight in with both feet. For the six years I’ve been at medical school, FY1 has been the stumbling block at the end; the big scary bit where you cut your teeth. I know it will be difficult and stressful, but sometimes, I think, it will also be fun and rewarding and exciting. I am very much looking forward to when my job as an FY1 is just another normal workday for me, rather than a daunting abstract thing that will swallow me up – as it definitely is at the moment!

Attending BMA conferences – I’ve been to one MSC and three ARMs – has set me in good stead for knowing my rights. As soon as I got my contract through, I was alarmed at my rota including, for example, 80-hour weeks occasionally. I got in touch with member services and was immediately given excellent help and advice.

Following on from this, I also set up a WhatsApp group for the 30-or-so FY1s starting in surgery at my hospital, to facilitate us organising things and chatting together, getting to know one another before we officially start, and it’s already been an invaluable source for those looking for shift swaps. I’ve managed to find a willing colleague who’s helping me by swapping one week of annual leave about so that I can take it at the same time as my girlfriend – a rare week when we’ll be on the same schedule and not passing one another like ships in the night!

I can already feel something of a sense of camaraderie, and I think this will be essential for all of us getting out of this year in one piece – as dramatic as that sounds, we all know it’s going to be hard and the support of our peers will be vital. I am looking forward to getting more involved with BMA Scotland at a local level, for example by attending meetings with the RJDC, and working to represent my friends and colleagues on the ward.

I have also just signed up to work with Docs Not Cops in order to strive to combat the hostile environment, ensuring that every patient has access to free healthcare, regardless of their race, accent or nationality. Organising in the community like this will help keep me sane and feed the part of my brain that needs stimulation from something other than chasing bloods and ordering X-rays.

And so, as I pace up and down Alexandra Parade outside the entrance to GRI, I will look back fondly on my six years as a medical student – but I am ready to write my next chapter.

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