Tips for your First Day as a Clinical Fellow
Congratulations! You have landed a clinical fellowship and are getting ready to start your new job. It’s normal to feel a mixture of emotions when starting a new role; excited, anxious, apprehensive, relieved. However, Messly is here to make sure that confident and prepared are also on that list.
The great thing about clinical fellowships is that they are substantive roles that will probably last longer than your previous rotations. Most clinical fellowships are 6-12 month contracts, so you’ll have plenty of time to settle into the job and make the most of your time. They're a great choice if you're not sure about locum work and are deciding what to do for your F3 year.
The other wonderful thing about clinical fellowships is that you have a lot more control over your goals and your career development. The positions aren’t usually as limited in their scope as trust grade or training posts, and the job is really what you make of it.
The key to getting the most of your fellowship is to put in some work early on, be informed and organised about what you want, and be assertive and persistent in getting those things.
In this article, you will learn:
✅ What to expect from your first week as a clinical fellow
✅ How to prepare for your first day as a clincial fellow
✅ How to make the most of your first few weeks as clinical fellow
🔎 What can I expect from my first week as a clinical fellow?
The BMA mandates that all new starters should receive a Trust induction before starting their new roles in earnest. Inductions ensure that new employees understand local practices, policies, and systems that will allow them to do their jobs in a safe and effective way.
Inductions can take several days to complete, and can be a mix of virtual and in-person training, and self-directed learning. They typically will end with a tour of your unit and meeting the team you will be working with. Though sometimes tedious, inductions can be a brilliant opportunity to ease yourself into a new role, to orientate yourself to the systems you’ll be working with, and to prepare your mindset for the work you’ll be doing over the coming months.
Inductions are considered work, and take place during your contracted dates and working hours. Therefore, you will be paid for attending your induction. This includes virtual induction, on site inductions, or self-directed training via online modules. If you do not receive pay, then you should be offered time off in lieu at an appropriate rate.
Things to expect from a Trust Induction may include:
👉 Welcome from key figures in the Trust.
👉 Information about the Trust’s history, services, culture and values.
👉 Explanation of issues experienced by the Trust, including equality and diversity issues.
👉 Talks about key policies, including safeguarding, whistleblowing, and raising-concerns.
👉 Site map and parking rules, emergency procedures and fire-safety regulations.
👉 Receive logins and passwords for essential digital programs.
👉 Training to familiarise yourself with those platforms.
👉 Receive work laptops and phones (if required for your role)
👉 Set up Smartcards and ID badges.
👉 Explanation of Electronic Staff Record and payment procedures.
👉 Verify original copies of key documents (proof of ID, proof of address).
👉 Introduction to staff bank and locum opportunities at the trust.
👉 Explanation of study leave and training opportunities.
👉 Explanation of the NHS pension scheme.
Clinical Teams induction:
👉 Introduction to key clinical teams at the Trust (i.e. Palliative care, Library and Research teams)
👉 Tour of the unit and information about emergency exits and procedures.
👉 Introduction to key figures in the unit.
👉 Identification of emergency equipment including grab bag and crash trolley, hypoglyaemia and anaphylaxis emergency kits, blood glucose and ketone meter, equipment room and drug room.
❓ What questions should I ask at induction?
Often the team running the induction sessions will ask ‘any questions?’ followed by an awkward 1-minute silence. Of course, you’ll probably have thousands of questions over the first few weeks, but none of them will come to you when you are put on the spot.
Based on personal experience, the key questions to ask in advance are:
Where and when am I expected to show up on site for the first time?
Make sure that you have a site map saved to your phone, and have identified the right place to be in advance.
Where can I park and how can I get a parking permit?
Ensure that you have identified how you are going to get to site for the first time, and if that involves driving then make sure you know where to park and how to get a parking permit (if required). Don’t accept directions like ‘around the back’ or as I recently was told at my trust induction ‘in the Quarry’ as a response. I can guarantee you that these colloquialisms won’t have any signage on site to help you figure out where to go and you will end up feeling frantic and frustrated as you circle the building for the 12th time.
Where can I get food on site?
If you are attending an in-person induction on site, asking this question in advance will help you prepare for what is likely to be a long and exhausting (and probably boring) day with the comfort of knowing you will at least be fed. Some hospitals are very remote and your only option may be bleak, bland cafeteria food and instant coffee (that costs a fortune). If this is the case, consider preparing lunch in advance and bringing something more appealing (and nutritious) with you…
When do we get paid each month?
Trusts vary the date that they pay their substantive employees, so knowing when you are expected to get paid can be really useful. Generally, it's the last Thursday or Friday of the month but your first month may be slightly different depending on your start date. Clarify whether your first and second months payslips will be combined.
What is the dress code for my unit?
It can alleviate a lot of stress if you are confident that your first visit on site wont break all of the dress code policies. Post-pandemic, most Trusts have persisted with scrubs as the standard uniform for doctors, but many community sites have reverted back to ‘workplace professional wear’. If you don’t have your own set of scrubs, check where you can get some either in advance of your first day on site, or in the morning when you arrive. Ensure that they have your size and can get them to you in advance of your start time, particularly if it is early (i.e. 8am).
🩺 What should I bring with me on my first day?
For your first day on site, make sure that you bring the following items:
✅ Site map and parking permit (or know where to get one on site when you arrive)
✅ Details of who you are meeting, when you are meeting, and where you are meeting.
✅ ID and proof of address documents +/- original copies of any other documents HR have requested to see in person.
✅ Existing smart card and Trust ID.
✅ IT logins and passwords - please don’t write these down on paper! Instead, keep them on a password protected phone if you can’t reliably remember them all.
You may also want to bring:
✅ Reusable coffee cup
✅ Water bottle
✅ Packed lunch
✅ Phone charger or battery pack
✅ Stethoscope and name badge if your job is clinical.
What should I do on my first clinical day?
Meet your supervisor
In all likelihood, you wont be expected to do a full clinical session on the first day of your fellowship. It’s more likely that you will be asked to shadow different team members, and meet with your supervisor to set goals for the year.
At this meeting be sure to ask about how you will fit into the team and get a clear outline of the role and its responsibilities. Establish how you will book annual leave and set your learning and supervision expectations for the role. If there are additional components like research, teaching, or simulation training that embedded in your role, agree your schedule for these activities with your supervisor in this meeting.
It’s useful to have prepared a PDP and considered your appraisal requirements in advance of this meeting so you can tell you supervisor what you want to and need to achieve this year, and ensure that your fellowship will support you to meet those goals throughout the year. It’s advisable to check in with these PDP goals quarterly and let your supervisor know if you are encountering any blocks to achieving these goals.
Meet your team
You are likely going to meet lots of new people the first week of your fellowship. I always recommend trying to learn the names of everyone you’re working with (both clinical and non clinical staff) early on. If you aren’t good at remembering - write them down until you can recall the unprompted. It sets a friendly tone and sense of community when team members make an effort to learn each other’s names. Additionally, you will need to collect 360 feedback from colleagues during each appraisal cycle. A clinical fellowship is a great opportunity to do this as your team will have longer to get to know you.
Tour the department
Ask to be shown key equipment (i.e. the crash trolley, emergency kits, and equipment room) early on. It looks embarrassing down the line if you can’t locate essential equipment if it is your job to take responsibility for these things. If you can’t remember door codes, write them down on a password protected device.
Find our where the toilets, canteen, mess, and offices are (both yours and your supervisors/consultants). Once you’ve located your office base (if you have one), check your computer and IT logins work, and check any emails you’ve received in relation to your new role. At this point, you may have learned about the unit’s specific guidelines and policies so now would be a good time to read them and familiarise yourself with the specialty terms and practices of the department.
Things NOT to do on your first day
❌ Don’t show up late.
❌ Don’t leave early, even if offered. Unlike a trust grade doctors, clinical fellows are presumed to be passionate for the specialty and eager for experience. Leaving early may be taken as disinterest and it certainly doesn’t leave the impression of a doctor with passion and initiative. If you aren’t sure what to do and the ward is busy, either ask to shadow someone, to sit in a department to meet some patients, or ask for a quiet space to work on your PDP to prepare for your supervisor.
This article is part of a wider series of resources and guides that are designed to support you as a locum doctor, covering areas such as getting your first job, managing your finances, understanding your rights, and many more. Visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today.
Additionally, if you're considering an F3 year, you might also find it useful to look through the selection of resources we've put together in our F3 Resource Hub.”