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Helen Macdonald: Dunce hat until April

6 Feb, 12 | by BMJ Group

Out with pacey surgical ward rounds; pain controlled, E+D, BO, OE – alert, obs stable, neurovascularly in tact, plan – drain out, fluids down, OT/PT, home when safe, OP 6/52. Out with debates about thromboprophylaxis, clotting and bleeding. Out with preadmission clinics. Out with being the crash team leader – I’ll not be sad to relinquish that duty. And in with a new hospital, a new team, and a new specialty.  I packed my bag after my night shift as the orthopaedic SHO oncall, left for good, and began preparations to start in paediatrics the next day, whatever that entails. more…

Helen Macdonald: Dangerous weekends – more complicated than just a lack of consultants

29 Nov, 11 | by BMJ Group

Why are patients in English hospitals more likely to die at the weekend? A good question, put to Dr Mark Porter, head of the BMA’s consultants’ committee by John Humphrys on the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday morning.

It was a difficult question for him to answer in a couple of sound bites. The question emerged (or perhaps re-emerged) in light of annual figures from the research company Dr Foster which show a 10% spike in weekend deaths, compared with weekdays. more…

Fiona Pathiraja: Putting a price on safety

4 Aug, 11 | by BMJ Group

Fiona PathirajaIt’s the first week of August and in the NHS that can only mean one thing. Changeover has arrived and thousands of newly qualified doctors are let loose on the wards.

For decades, patients and doctors alike have joked that it is best to avoid a hospital stay in August. Lately, this myth has been gathering evidence with suggestions of increased mortality around the changeover period. [1] Whilst by no means conclusive, the trend shouldn’t be ignored. more…

Fiona Pathiraja: Investing in future clinical leaders

6 Apr, 11 | by BMJ Group

Fiona PathirajaFor a medic still just under thirty, I have deviated from the traditional medical career path several times. Working as a healthcare management consultant, setting up a start up enterprise and being on secondment to the Department of Health have broadened my understanding of the healthcare landscape.

The controversy over the planned NHS reforms has got me thinking about clinical leadership.  Empowered clinical leaders will be crucial to implementing the reforms and the NHS should look to other industries for lessons on developing future leaders.  Whilst junior doctors are treated as bottom of a hierarchy, their private sector counterparts are nurtured, trained and valued. Retaining and investing in talent is big business. Other industries wouldn’t dream of labelling the next generation of leaders with the pejorative term “junior.” Yet this is exactly what we do to future medical leaders. more…

Helen Carnaghan on the cost of becoming a surgeon

10 Jul, 09 | by BMJ Group

Helen Carnaghan

So you want to be a surgeon? As a new medical graduate do you really know what this entails? I thought I did, but quickly learnt otherwise. more…

Helen Carnaghan: The messy business of learning

24 Mar, 09 | by BMJ

Helen CarnaghanMany things have changed during my transition from medical student to junior doctor. For starters my bank account contains a mysterious thing called money, a 30 minute lunch break is something I dream about and leaving hospital on time a distant memory. Amongst the changes one of the biggest is the way I learn. more…

Helen Carnaghan’s transition from medical student to junior doctor

6 Mar, 09 | by BMJ Group

Helen Carnaghan Over the past seven months my life has drastically changed having gone from a perpetual medical student to junior doctor in the blink of an eye. Looking back on the transition from a more settled position I can see the old adage of “don’t get sick in August” is a true reflection of the fears held by all newly qualified junior doctors. more…

Bruno Rushforth on the roles we play

2 Feb, 09 | by BMJ Group

Bruno Rushforth It’s amazing how quickly one adapts. The first couple of days were a bit of a shock, but I soon accepted my fate and – rather worryingly – began to take on the role of the underling almost willingly.

I remember how the same thing happened when I’d started medical school. Having worked prior to medicine and thereby developed an identity and self-image as an independent “productive” citizen, it took a while to readjust to the role and expectations of being a student – being herded around and talked down to with depressing regularity. more…

Helen Barratt is feeling the pinch

23 Oct, 08 | by BMJ

Helen BarrattLast week I found myself at a conference on multidisciplinary teamwork in the NHS, and one of the keynote speakers observed that the main benefit of the “credit crunch” is that bankers have overtaken healthcare professionals as the most hated profession in the country. The media is full of stories of doom, as the banking system lurches from one crisis to the next. However the comment got me thinking about the wider health impact of both the current financial situation, and the recession we seem to be entering.

more…

Helen Barratt: Back to reality

9 Oct, 08 | by BMJ Group

Helen BarrattReturning to full-time work after a year of studying has taken some getting used to. I’m slowly adjusting to my Outlook calendar running my life, and learning to survive the two hour meetings which are a regular part of life in public health. Lasting the course until 17:00 on Friday is still a struggle though. Although I’ve done some PCT work during my MSc holidays, I definitely got used to not having teaching every day, and I could certainly have done with some flexibility in my schedule recently, as we returned from holiday the other week to both a broken boiler and a small flood. more…

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