New Beginnings

Stephanie Cattlin

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’

Lao Yzu

August in medicine is a time for new beginnings: new medical school graduates, now fully fledged foundation doctors, are taking their first steps onto the wards, as are those embarking on specialty training, or even making the jump to starting consultant life. Having graduated from university recently, large numbers of nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) will be discarding their student uniforms and ID badges, and heading to work. It is a time of change within the hospital, when the largest changeover of staff often occurs.

I feel it’s important to really welcome to all the new intensive care medicine trainees starting on the incredible journey of a career in intensive care! By now you will have undergone induction, mandatory training, met with your educations supervisors and will have started to settle into new hospitals or regions for your next stage of specialty training. A lot is packed into your first few weeks but hopefully towards the end of your first month you will be getting to grips with your new role.

Many of you will feel nervous and uncertain, with some of you already working in another specialty if you are a dual trainee. Feeling this way is normal – just remember the hard work that you have already undertaken to get to where you are. Foundation training. Core training.The ICM application and interview process.

Looking back now I can still remember my first day of specialty training and the combination of excitement at finally getting to train in the specialty I had chosen alongside the nervousness of a new start. There is new knowledge to take in and skills to learn, and you will find yourself wondering if you will ever know everything.

The big secret of course is that it is not possible to know everything – there is always something new to learn and this is one of the joys of a career in medicine: we never stop learning.

Remember that there are many people there to support you, you are never alone.  From fellow trainees, ICU nurses, AHPs, to educational supervisors, faculty tutors, regional advisors and training programme directors – there are many of us who are here to help!

Don’t hesitate to ask, remember there are no stupid questions be they clinical, educational, training-related, or career related and there will always someone to talk to.

It probably feels like you have a long, long period of intensive care training time ahead of you. From my perspective, looking back as a consultant, it actually seems to have passed by very quickly so my advice is to make the most of it and enjoy.

Over your training you will meet countless new people, make new friends for life, receive great coaching, gain knowledge, clinical skills and a unique wealth of experience. I hope you will have much enjoyment and good luck!

Stephanie is a consultant intensivist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. She is a member of the FICM Women in Intensive Care Subcommittee.