Being a (part time) Consultant

Dr Phillips, part-timer and fraudInspired by the wisdom of @ian_wac in the previous post, I wracked my brain to think of five top tips that I would give (if ever asked) on “How to be a Consultant”.

My experience of becoming a Consultant was, perhaps, a little odd in that I began as, and continue to be, a part-timer. This in itself brings lots of challenges, such as:

  1. Feeling of failing the families by not quite being there enough
  2. Guilt when not in the hospital that someone else is having to cover for me
  3. A sense of rushing to catch up with information from the missing days
  4. Sneaky feeling of delight on my non-hospital days
  5. Constantly needing to apologise for being part-time

Having chatted to quite a few other less-than-full-time docs, I think some of these feelings are common to many of us.

Some of my top tips for being a Consultant then come out of these, and should be set alongside a longer run-in to comfort than you might expect. For me, it took getting on for three years before some days I would say “I’m one of the Consultants …” and actually believe I really was, rather than playing at being one.

Top tips then:

  1. Go home when you’re done
    Others are around to do stuff. Playing “I can stay here the latest” isn’t good for your health, or the other competitors.
  2. No-one expects you to know all the answers (except, perhaps, yourself) – being a Consultant is a team sport*
    People will want you to keep asking questions, and expect to be asked them from others. We all need somebody to lean on.
  3. Stop micro-managing and lead folk in your team(s)
    Stepping up to being a Consultant means letting people get on with stuff. You probably hated being treated like a dictation maching as a senior trainee. Why do that to others now you’re the Consultant?
  4. The emails will always be there – you don’t have to answer them all but if you’ve not going to act on one, delete it
    Eventually, you’ll probably learn the difference between a ‘for information’ inclusion and a ‘for action’ inclusion in an email list. That’s ‘eventually’ and ‘probably’ and it’ll be by mixing them up on a number of occasions.
  5. Make sure you dictate your letters before you leave your clinic
    (It doesn’t have to be immediately after every one. Especially if you’re still weeping ’cause there’s no lines of treatment left. It buggers up the voice dictation.)

Anyone else have any more they wish to offer?

  • Bob Phillips


* Except perhaps paediatric sleep medicine

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