A Guide to Socialising as a Junior Doctor

I’m new to the scene of working as a doctor in the real world; having had a limited out-of-pandemic experience, I may be coming at this from an atypical perspective. But, in this blog post I will explain how I have tried to manage the social aspects of being a junior doctor – and how I am still struggling.

To help you understand my point-of-view, I am a Foundation Year 2 doctor (FY2) with an interest in plastic surgery. A speciality that is highly competitive to get into and requires a lot of dedication into improving your CV. I grew up in South-East London – where I was used to working hard and playing hard and went to the University of Exeter… which did not really meet my desires socially but was supplemented by frequent trips back home. Luckily, I have been blessed with foundation years back in London/Kent.

It helps to have Doctor-Friends

Listening to the tales of more senior doctors, I was always in awe of their glory days. In their early years of work when the hours were crazy and doctors often lived on-site; they had little time to see their family and friends, but plenty of wild stories with doctors and other Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) on hospital grounds. Many of these, now consultants, still regularly meet up with the doctors from their foundation years (or are married to them) and are overjoyed when opportunities arise to co-manage a patient.

Less senior doctors still talk about how the people they met in their foundation years and how that framed their junior years.

Fast-forward to 2020, graduating early into the pandemic. My interim job before starting F1, was an amazing opportunity to bond with another doctor as we had been placed in the same temporary socially distanced residence. I had a taste of the good old days; social life was essentially whoever we met in the hospital. By FY1, indoor gatherings were allowed for a few months before the second wave begun. My fellow FY1s were keen to make use of every opportunity and after-work drinks became a regular occurrence. We would be joined by our ward teams including doctors of other training levels and other AHPs. Furthermore, within my ward-based teams someone always made an active effort to organise dinner/another social event. I am currently trying to convince my current team to have a salsa social night.

Pros of socialising with colleagues

  • It makes the day go quicker when you enjoy who you are working with

  • It makes referring to other teams and asking for help easier

  • You bond with people you may have otherwise not have met – I have met amazing Physician Associates (you know who you are), pharmacists and fellow doctors

  • Emotional support as you go through a lot during the job – I had a group chat with my two other doctors who I was on-call with and when one person was having a busy day we would chip in and help. It was also good for asking any silly questions

  • You work better together which is ultimately great for your patients 😊

Cons of socialising with colleagues

  • Its difficult to find time when everyone’s off as someone needs to cover the on call – I often missed the mess events due to an on-call shift... maybe intentionally