Dear Me- A Letter to my Self- by Dr Chris Bidder

Tomorrow, you start your first day in paediatrics with a long day covering the level 3 neonatal intensive care unit hot room.  I know you’re nervous, so I thought you could use the benefit of some of the wisdom you will gain in the next 15 years.

1.  Work hard, play harder

Don’t allow work to stop you living life.  There will be times when your vocation becomes all consuming, but when you’re not in work or revising make every effort to exercise, belong to a gang of friends, read great stories, sing, drink, dance and laugh.  It’s these things which will make you a good doctor.

2.  Cultivate relationships …

With the nurses, medical and non-medical colleagues.  Make an effort to remember names.  Get to know the radiographers and lab scientists by visiting them.  You are part of a highly complex team; savour and develop these relationships.  Take heed of good advice, especially from the nurses; it will save your arse.


3.  Do the basics brilliantly

You may well be the only person who takes a full history and does a thorough examination.  Doing these well will save you time, help patients, save the NHS money and every now and again make you look clever.


4.  Shake hands with kids and parents

Stuff what the infection control team say, introduce yourself properly.  Shake hands, make eye contact, tell people who you are and what you do.  Earn the trust of sick kids and their parents.  (And wash your hands before and after every patient to appease the infection control team).

5.  Get organised, stay organised

Procrastination has and always will be your worst enemy.  Work out your systems to get organised and use them to keep your head (and occasionally your whole self) above water.

6.  Never bullshit

You are a useless bluffer: everyone can read you like a book.  Say, “I don’t know,” and then go away and find out.

7.  Trust your instincts

Learn to hear that quiet inner whisper, that tells you something isn’t quite right.  And trust it – it will save lives.

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