How to Make the Most of Your Clinical Attachment
Hi, I’m Sneha, and I have recently completed a clinical attachment at Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle. In today’s blog, I’m going to tell you about my experience doing a clinical attachment and everything I gained from it; I hope this helps you optimize your clinical attachment experience. I will discuss in the blog the following:
• What is a clinical attachment and how to secure one?
• Documents and other prerequisites for a clinical attachment.
• Tips to keep in mind during the clinical attachment.
• My clinical attachment experience
What is a clinical attachment and how to secure one?
In recent times there’s a lot of buzz surrounding doing a clinical attachment, so I’m here to help make the whole process a little bit easier on you. A clinical attachment is a period of time, generally 4-6 weeks, that you spend in a particular department to familiarize yourself with the workings of the NHS. It gives you a good opportunity to experience how things work first hand.
You can do a clinical attachment at any time during your PLAB journey, but an ideal time would be after your PLAB 2 when you are waiting on your results or immediately after you obtain your GMC registration while you are looking for jobs. There is detailed information about how a clinical attachment would be beneficial for you and how to secure one in the TrewLink blogs; these are just a few tips from me:
• Have a clear and concise paragraph ready to e-mail consultants- this should include which stage of your PLAB journey you are at, why you want to do a clinical attachment, when you want to do it and which department you want to do it in, along with reasons for the same.
• Go to the trust website that you are interested in, go to the consultant directory and find the relevant e-mail addresses or alternately, call the trust switchboard and get in touch with the department of your choice.
• Create an account on trac jobs and NHS jobs, look at job vacancies in the trust or department of your choice and contact the e-mail address provided in the job advert.
Documents and other prerequisites for a clinical attachment
Congratulations! You have now secured a clinical attachment. What next? You will receive a bunch of forms from the HR along with a list of documents they would require from your side. Once you send all those across to them, they will process it and get back to you with a contract and a starting date. The documents they commonly ask for are:
• Passport and visa
• Address proof in the form of a bank or credit card statement
• Police clearance certificate or good standing certificate from your home country
• Immunization history
Although these are the most commonly asked for documents, it varies from trust to trust. Some trusts may require a DBS check or an occupational health clearance. The HR will let you know about any requirements.
Other than the HR requirements, this is the stage at which you also make your personal arrangements. Look for short-term accommodation, preferably close to the hospital. Enquire regarding availability of hospital accommodation.
Tips to keep in mind during the clinical attachment
And the day is finally here; you’re all set to begin your clinical attachment! Here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of your attachment:
• Meet your supervisor prior to starting your attachment and make a plan about what you want to achieve during your attachment.
• Remember that it’s an entirely new system; the only way you can get comfortable in it is to keep asking questions. Ask questions, whether it’s about something clinical or administrative or anything you have a doubt about.
• Show that you are eager to learn and be on time and prompt with any tasks delegated to you.
• Volunteer to take patient history and examine and discuss your findings with the consultant. You will not be given opportunities unless you ask for them.
• Depending on trust policy, you may be allowed to perform simple procedures like IV cannulation, blood sampling, and ABG. If you are allowed to do so, make the most of it.
• Take the time to shadow an SHO, as that is the job you will be doing when you start off in the NHS.
• Try and perform a simple audit. Your supervisor can help you choose a topic that you can complete in a short span of time.
• Attend any department teaching sessions that are conducted and, if possible, conduct a teaching session.
• Make a note of the patients you see, any procedures you have performed, and any audit or teaching session you have conducted, and get it signed off by your supervisor, so you have evidence.
• Make sure to ask your supervisor if they would be happy to be a reference for you when you apply for jobs.
• Towards the end of your attachment, speak to your supervisor and HR and find out about job vacancies that may be coming up so that you can apply for them.
My clinical attachment experience
I completed my PLAB 2 exam on April 13th, 2022. I did want to do an attachment immediately after that, but I was unable to secure an attachment for that period. So I returned home, completed my GMC registration, and then began my attachment at Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, in the department of A&E on June 17th, 2022.
I did my attachment for 2 months. On the first day of my attachment, my supervisor sat down with me, and we made a PDP (personal development plan) for my attachment. The steps of my PDP were:
• Familiarize myself with the working of the NHS.
• Understand the different roles and responsibilities of different teams in the NHS.
• Understand the working of A&E.
• Complete a simple audit.
• Conduct a teaching session.
• Apply to as many jobs as possible.
I personally feel that having a supportive supervisor is very important to gain the most from your attachment. That being said, it is even more important for you to speak up and grab every opportunity you can.
During the course of my attachment I worked with consultants other than my supervisor as well, which helped me secure more references for my job applications. Since I already had my GMC registration, I was allowed to see patients independently and then discuss with the consultants regarding management plans.
I also performed several IV cannulations and blood samplings. I conducted an observational audit that I presented at the monthly department M&M meeting. I conducted an SHO teaching session on head injury and received feedback for the same. Towards the end of my attachment, a vacancy opened up in the same department, and I secured my first NHS job.
A clinical attachment is in no way mandatory, but if you do get the opportunity to do one, it is definitely an invaluable experience. I have learnt a lot about the daily life of a doctor in the NHS and got first-hand experience about how the system works and I can confidently say my clinical attachment helped me secure my first job.
Need more tips and advice?
If you have any further questions regarding clinical attachments or your PLAB journey, I would be happy to answer them on trewlink.com. You can register using this link- https://trewlink.com/?referrer=sne27206 . Find me as an ambassador and follow my profile- Sneha Poladi- to receive regular tips and advice.