A welcome to new doctors from Prof Colin Melville

Congratulations on reaching a huge milestone.

Today you enter postgraduate medical training as FY1 doctors. Many years of study and preparation have brought you to this point. As the new generation of clinicians, whose talent and ingenuity will shape the future of our profession, welcome. We are very glad to have you.

You join the workforce at an extraordinary moment.

As a doctor, you will never stop learning. As a doctor with a licence to practise and a director at the GMC, I'm still learning. And the context of a global health pandemic gives us more opportunities to learn still.

Your experiences will be varied. Some of you will already have worked as FiY1s, some will have signed up as volunteers and some will be about to experience clinical practice for the first time as new graduates.

Despite the unprecedented circumstances of this pandemic, the advice I'd give hasn't changed. As a former intensive care consultant, it's the same advice I'd give my younger self.

  • Firstly, look after yourself – make your wellbeing a priority. Throughout the pandemic, healthcare staff have continued to provide compassionate care to patients in the most difficult of circumstances. That is testament to their incredible dedication and skill. But caring for others doesn't mean you should neglect your own self-care. Looking after yourself will make you better able to look after your patients.
  • Secondly, never be afraid to ask if you're unsure. For those of us who seek a career in medicine, dedication to providing first rate care is instinctive. But our skills must be learned, and most of that learning takes place on the job. We can't all know everything all the time, so use your colleagues as a resource - we're at our best when we work collaboratively. You should never feel embarrassed or dismissed if you're genuinely seeking advice or help. Don't give up! Keep asking, keep learning.
  • Thirdly, enjoy it! Caring for patients is a wonderful privilege and medicine is an amazing career. Take time to reflect on how much you've achieved so far and be excited about what lies ahead.

You'll find lots more advice on the GMC website – visit our web pages for doctors starting the Foundation Programme in 2020 and read the blog from Mary Agnew, the GMC's Assistant Director of Standards and Guidance. You can also find information on how to apply our guidance in practice on our ethical hub.

We want to hear from you as you settle in to your first few months as a new doctor. Share your thoughts by taking part in this Newcastle University study on the impact of COVID-19 on 2020 medical graduates. And remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Lastly, be kind – to your patients, to your colleagues and to yourselves. 

I wish you all the best.

Professor Colin Melville
Twitter: @drcolinm
GMC No: 2806806
Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards
General Medical Council