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  • Writer's pictureDeniz Eroglu

Five Things I Learnt From My Worst Day at Work

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Everyone loves to talk about their happiest day at work, when everything went as planned and it hardly seemed like work as the whole team came together to perform to its fullest potential. But let us not be disillusioned by such days. We all have our fair share of bad days too. Today I'd like to share my learnings from my worst day at work.

What do we mean when we say that our day was terrible? It could be an amalgamation of personal and professional factors.

You might not feel the best some days, experiencing physical, emotional and mental burnout from the cumulative workload of the last couple of days. This is especially so towards the end of your block of on calls and more during a set of night shifts than on long days. You might be going through a rough phase in your personal lives and finding it hard to focus on the task at hand.

And then there are those days when you go in with a plan maybe to get through a long list of patients in an overbooked clinic, an elective surgical list or just to finish with your ward round in time to be able to join the monthly morbidity & mortality meeting. But as luck would have it multiple colleagues have called in sick, taken time off, not pulling their weight for all sorts of reasons and you see your vision of a good day crumble in front of your eyes slowly. The frustration arising from the helplessness, your inability to control multiple other factors such as availability of equipment to work with, not being able to get together synergistically and lacking effective leadership tend to be the last straw that break your spirit.

I assure you that each individual irrespective of their profession or grade goes through this spectrum of emotions at their workplace. How do we prevent this from getting to us to the extent that we cannot work efficiently anymore? We must develop effective coping mechanisms to deal with the inevitable.

Here are my top 5 tips for those going through a rough day at work:

1. Take a pause or a step back to gauge the situation and see it as a whole. There are elements of a clinical conundrum that are easy to miss while you're in the eye of the storm. It might also help to get your senior colleagues involved and seek their perspective and advice in developing a plan to manage it. Get a fresh pair of eyes to view the matter and see how it makes a difference.

2. Be vocal! Effective interpersonal communication and acknowledging the emotions being expressed by different individuals helps ensure that everyone is on the same page. Anyone needing additional support can then be identified and a more conducive environment can be created for them to operate efficiently.

3. Be organised - Keep a list of jobs. Writing tasks down and going through them systematically helps avoid missing important jobs. Prioritising more urgent ones over others and delegating tasks with clear assignment to each member of a team is critical to getting through an overwhelming situation. Some individuals including myself find it challenging to ask for assistance. We end up taking more on our plates than we can manage. This leads to confusion, anger and poor use of time. Escalating in time and highlighting issues when appropriate is an attribute learnt through trial and error. Be patient with yourself, trust the process & don't hesitate to use help.

4. Pre-empt jobs and plan ahead. Effective leadership sets the agenda for the shift and leads by example. On a day when there is no clear leadership demonstrated by your seniors, you must take the opportunity to step up and put your knowledge to practice. However it is crucial to operate within your defined limits. F2 doctors often find them in situations where they are asked to consent a patient while their registrar and consultant are held up in theatres. If you find yourself in such a situation, clearly state that you are not permitted to consent patients and enlist help from other SHOs or a registrar to help get the job done.

Shying away from such situations would mean losing an important learning opportunity. So try your best to step up when the situation demands while being a safe junior doctor. Ask to debrief with a registrar or consultant when the situation has settled to derive the most out of the experience.

5. Look around to see who else you can include on your team. With multiple specialties and teams its easy to mistake yourself as separate from the others. This might make you think that you must work all by yourself when your immediate team members are engaged. However realising that we are all healthcare workers and here to help each other to manage every person who walks in through the hospital doors would encourage us to seek help from associated teams. As a surgical F2 I would ensure that I kept my colleagues in A & E informed if ever I was all by myself. I would take the opportunity to review any surgical emergencies who were at risk of breaching their 4 hour wait time or were very poorly. I would discuss my impression with the ED Consultant and put a provisional plan in place. Offering the patient analgesia, sending a panel of blood tests, getting scans done and ensuring that they're well hydrated would speed up the process of making a definitive plan by my senior surgical colleagues.

Little Things

It is little things like these that make all the difference when you are under immense pressure. Being mindful of the impact of your workload on you and booking leaves or requesting for time off to recuperate are absolutely essential. Seek help from your educational and clinical supervisors when you are buckling under pressure and your GP when you are going through a psychological turmoil. Remember to take your breaks from time to time. Set periodic hydration reminders and set aside time for a lunch break, handing over any emergent tasks to a colleague.


Hope this blogpost was a useful read and gave you some feasible ideas to put to practice. I'm sure that these will help you enjoy your days at work, whether good or bad!

Need more tips and advice? Checkout other blogs by Trewlink covering various aspects of your journey to the NHS.

Reach out to me on my profile – Himani Murdeshwar, Community Expert - to receive any support and advice.

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1 comentario

kiran kishor
kiran kishor
02 mar 2023


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