How to Optimise Your Professional Development in Final Year of Medical School
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
As a final year medical student, you have a lot on your plate. Most students will be revising for their very last exams of med school – and learning lots of biopsychosocial information in preparation for them. This knowledge is definitely important – you need it to be a safe doctor. But the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates covers much more than your clinical knowledge. It places plenty of emphasis on professional skills too, and your final year at medical school is a good time to consolidate your professional skills. You’ve probably already got a foundation in all of the skills mentioned in Outcomes for Graduates, and in this article we’ll give you some pointers as to how you can fit some professional development into your final year.
(If you want to save this article to read later, you can download it as a PDF.)
Working as part of a team is highlighted as a key skill in Outcomes for Graduates. You may have had some interprofessional team training, worked in a group on a project, or been part of a university sports team. During your final year, consider the following for building your skills working in a team:
Even though it’s your final year, it’s absolutely worth joining a new society committee. In fact, it may be the best time to explore something new with a smaller committee role, as these positions tend to be less time intensive
Consider joining the Final Year Committee or similar, to work in a team to deliver finalist-specific events
Maintain roles in teams you have already established – as long as you have good time management there is no reason you need to give up all your extracurricular activities
Consider spending some time reflecting on your performance in teams so far – what do you do consistently well? What could you improve upon in the future?
Read our Social Dynamics blog post to find out how you can positively influence the team around you, just by your own verbal and non-verbal communication
As a Foundation doctor you’ll be expected to lead teams, particularly in out-of-hours work, where you may be the most senior doctor on the ward. You can hone your ability to lead in your final year:
Teaching younger students is an excellent way to develop leadership skills. It also gives you the chance to revise
You may want to continue with leadership roles you already held. If you find yourself pressed for time, you could appoint a relevant deputy to help out during times of high stress
Remember, there are more opportunities to develop your leadership skills that it often appears. Some may not be obvious or seem too ‘small’ to bother with. Take opportunities where they crop up
Take a look at our online course How To Build A Successful Career Before You Graduate Medical School for more tips on how you can showcase your leadership skills. The below clip is taken from the course
Ethical and legal awareness
Remember that the SJT covers these aspects of professionalism, so your final year is the best time to brush up on your knowledge. We’ll be publishing a full blog post on how to best prepare for the SJT in the next few weeks, so keep your eye on our Twitter to read the piece when it’s out. In the meantime, consider reading Good Medical Practice.
Outcomes for Graduates now has a section on protecting your physical and mental wellbeing. Whilst we all know it’s difficult to keep to routines that protect wellbeing whilst being a busy junior doctor, the final year is a good time to get into good habits.
Start an exercise regime – it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move. Lots of people find the Couch to 5K programme a good introduction to running for fitness and pleasure.
Read up on sleep hygiene and get rested. Tired minds are slower and make worse decisions. Studies have shown that the sleep deprived often can’t tell they are compromised. Keep to a routine, turn off your phone, and get the restorative rest you need to perform at your best.
Revision sessions can be social too. Plan times where you revise in small groups. It goes far beyond OSCE practice!
If you fancy something a bit different, singing in a choir is an evidence based way to protect your mental health.
Make sure you utilise all the wellbeing resources offered to you by your university.
Take a look at our recent blog post on coping with stressful situations.
How can Medics.Academy help you in final year?
Our whole purpose as a company is to improve healthcare education. That’s why we have set up an online study group for students going into their final year right now. The group is open to any student in their final year of a UK medical school, meaning by joining you’ll gain a support network with students from across the country – some of whom may be your colleagues in August 2020. Become a member of the Final-Year 2019/20 Facebook Group if you are interested. It will also give you the ability to ask us questions to challenges as they come up.
About the Author
Anna Harvey is a final year medical student and Medics.Academy Fellow. She is interested in women’s health, education and journalism. You can find her tweeting about writing, music and running at @a_c_harvey