Tips for Returning to Support During the Coronavirus Pandemic
This week, the General Medical Council announced that it's begun writing to doctors who have recently stepped away from frontline medical work, requesting they return to work temporarily to provide support through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
If you're one of those doctors, we appreciate this must be a challenging situation with a number of difficult things to consider before making a decision.
In this article, we've outlined the key considerations to help you make your decision, and provided a number of links to resources which you'll also find useful.
1. Check if you're you eligible
The first thing to do is to check that you are in fact eligible to return to work, as things stand.
The GMC has said that it expects to be asked by the government to give temporary registration to as many as 15,000 doctors who have left the register or relinquished their license to practice over the last three years. If this includes you, head over to the GMC website for full information.
Of course, there's a great deal of uncertainty at the moment, so things are likely to change often. Keep checking in for guidance and updates as the situation develops.
If you want to speak to someone or get access to more information, you can contact the GMC directly by email.
2. Consider your personal circumstances
An important thing to assess is your own personal circumstances. It's wise to begin by answering some of these questions:
Are you in contact with elderly relatives? Are you a carer for other members of your family? Do you have underlying health issues of your own?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, it doesn't necessarily rule you out altogether from helping. You could still consider:
-- Non-frontline work, such as telemedicine or remote consultations
-- Volunteering via email to be a peer supporter for the BMA wellbeing service (if you can make yourself available for the next 6 months).
Despite the pressure you will certainly fees, you should of course prioritise the health and safety of yourself and those closest to you before committing to rejoining the healthcare system.
3. Choose the right specialty and grade
If you are able to offer your support, think carefully about whether you need to be on the frontline with infected COVID-19 patients (such as A&E, critical care, and acute medicine) or in a more supporting role.
Make an honest assessment of your current clinical skills. We'd suggest writing down what you would be (and wouldn't be) comfortable doing, both with and without supervision.
This is particularly important for doctors who'll be going into frontline specialties. Where you may previously have been comfortable with procedures such as intubation, central lines, or chest drains, the time you've spent away from practicing medicine may make those more challenging now.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you'll have to do things you’re not entirely comfortable doing. In fact, it could even be beneficial going down to a lower grade at first to ease yourself back in, and you could always change this once you've settled.
It's also worth thinking about what rates you’d want to receive. You'll need to balance getting fair pay for your work with the related risk, and profiting from a system under threat.
4. Refresh yourself with the latest resources
If you’re going back into an acute clinical setting, we'd strongly suggest you read through the emergencies section in the Cheese and Onion, brush up on your ALS Guidelines, keep the BNF app handy, and look into any other resources which will help get you reacquainted with the latest standards in healthcare.
There is a very helpful Facebook support group for doctors returning to work to support the COVID-19 situation. Join this and feel free to ask any questions of other doctors who are in a similar situation.
Some additional resources which you might find valuable are:
-- The COVID Expert app we've created, which allows doctors from across the world to share their most valuable and trusted resources with the clinical community. The app is fully-searchable, with the capability to add and save your favourite resources and up-vote the most useful ones for others.
5. Quickly assess what roles are available
Here at Messly, we're working hard to make our Messly Talent platform available to the healthcare system to help resolve this unprecedented crisis.
Messly Talent gives doctors access to the widest range of hospitals, bank providers, and agencies looking to fill vacancies, giving you the broadest possible choice over where you might work and total control over how you do it. We hope that by making it easier and safer for doctors to help the NHS, more doctors will be encouraged to do so, benefitting everyone.
You can create your own profile from your phone, state clearly what you’re looking for (location, specialty, shift patterns, dates, pay rates, or other conditions) and outline your clinical experience.
You’ll then be contacted by hospitals, bank providers, and agencies who have needs that specifically match your profile. They’ll explain who they are and what shifts they have; all you have to do is tell them whether you're interested, or swipe left if not and move on. It's entirely up to you who to share your contact details with.
For more information about how you can return to the frontline of the healthcare system and support the NHS in this challenging time, visit this page to take the first step and see where your assistance may be needed most.
As the COVID-19 situation develops, we'll be doing everything we can to keep our community updated on all the latest opportunities to help out. In the mean-time, please stay safe, try your best to take all the necessary precautions, and look out for each other during this difficult period.
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