Take your time

It took me a long time to find ways of working effectively. There is immense pressure on our time throughout our careers. Rushing things frequently leads to them not being done correctly, generating anxiety and the need to do them again.

Patients quickly identify and resent a doctor who is rushing. If I begin to think that it's time to rush, I have to remind myself that I should probably be taking things more slowly.

Have patience with patients

Looking after patients can be difficult but is immensely fulfilling. Developing good clinical skills depends on knowing how to encourage patients to provide the critical information you require, and on being comfortable with examining them, which was much harder than I expected. It is also important to examine lots of patients to learn the full spectrum of normality.

Patients may seem to cause frustration but usually they aren't at fault - it's more likely that one's own lack of skill or patience is to blame. Spend as much time as you can with patients as they will provide much of the information that you need. If you find that you don't enjoy interacting with patients then don't worry. There are still lots of options open to you, but it is better to find out sooner rather than later.

This article was correct at publication on 13/08/2015. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

Paul Riordan-Eva

After training at Cambridge and St Thomas's Hospital, London, Paul specialised in ophthalmology including a year in San Francisco on a Harkness Fellowship. He then trained in neuro-ophthalmology leading to an initial Consultant post between The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Moorfields Eye Hospital as well as MRC Consultant Clinical Scientist and a move to King's College Hospital in 1999. He has been a member of the MDU since qualifying in 1982.

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