Next week I’m starting my first job as an eye specialist following completion of my college course. I’m worried I might not fit in. What should I do?

Starting a new job can be stressful especially if it is your first and is in health care. People sometimes worry about fitting in with the other practice staff. I worked for around 10 years as a freelance optometrist and worked in a lot of different practices. Some as just one-offs and others on regular days for several years. I had a lot of first days. Here’s what I learned.

Know where the practice is, how to get to there, where to park if you are driving and how far the public transport stop is from the practice.

Know what time you need to be there and aim to get there 30 minutes before you are due to see your first patient. You can practice with equipment and get a sense of the patient flow.

Dress smartly. Find out in advance what the other eye specialists wear. Is a tie required?

Find out what equipment you need to take. If you are expected to use your own equipment make sure it all works and your batteries are fresh.

Have a pen and a note pad at hand.

Say good morning to all the staff you encounter, say your name slowly and shake hands if the culture allows.

Smile. Don’t say you are nervous even if you are. Nervousness is contagious.

Always say please and thank you. Smile.

Don’t complain about anything. Don’t complain about patients. Don’t complain about the competition. Don’t complain about other staff or the boss. Never roll your eyes. Offer to make the staff drinks. Once a week buy the staff a treat.

Keep your work area clean. Attend to personal hygiene. Smile.

If you work with other eye specialists observe the ones who are popular with staff and patients and do what they do.

Make sure you have a 15-minute break in the morning, at least 30 minutes mid-day and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Don’t look at your phone. Read a book. During the mid-day break leave the practice and get outside if you can. If not, leave the practice and walk around or sit somewhere else away from the practice.

If you want a patient to come back for further tests make a note of their name in your notebook and the date of the appointment. When that date comes, check to see if they have attended. If not phone them up, explain the importance of the appointment and note in the clinical records the time and date you phoned them, what you said and what the patient’s response was.

Keep a note of any interesting clinical facts you learn. Keep a note of the name and company of sales reps and engineers that visit and a brief description. When you see them next time you can address them by their name.

Don’t make any changes to the layout of the staff room/rest area.

If you are unsure about anything, ask. If you are unsure about a clinical decision, ask another eye specialist

Thank everyone for their help at the end of the day.

Be humble. And remember to smile.

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