Five areas new consultants might want to consider beefing up their skills in

Read our guide to the non-clinical aspects of becoming a consultant here.

So after the years and years studying, long shifts, new work places and exams, a longed for consultant post is within grasp. But what does this new post mean after all the hard work honing clinical skills as a junior?

Consultants warn that the change brings a lot more than just new clinical responsibilities, including a whole load of non-clinical work that many doctors can be unprepared for.

Kitty Mohan, a new consultant in communicable disease control in Oxford, says despite the years of preparation and training, the step up to the new post still brings difficulties.

‘I’ve found the transition to consultant challenging as I moved city and region and moved to a completely new team,’ Dr Mohan says. ‘Fortunately my colleagues have been very helpful but I was astounded at how much I was expected to just know how to do or organise, and how there was no one place to go to get information on starting work as a new consultant.
This feels lacking as new consultants will only do what they know they need to do.’

So which areas can prove problematic for new consultants? Doctors have told BMJ Careers that these non-clinical aspects of being a consultant can be sometimes unexpected, and often challenging:

Education
A new post brings new fresh responsibilities for teaching the next generation of doctors, and potential supervisory education roles to consider. Experienced consultants recommend not underestimating the power of teaching during clinical work on ward rounds and in theatre, and seeking out training courses to develop teaching skills.

Service development
Understanding the quality and efficiency of the service provided is an essential part of every consultant’s job. Straightforward tools can help senior doctors find out more about their service, and implement and test change.

Business plans
Every piece of new kit, staff member or any change that needs funding will generally demand a business case to secure the necessary money. Getting this document right first time, and directing it to the right person, will improve the chances of a doctor receiving the green light for the necessary funds, saving time and frustration in the long run.

Dealing with complaints
The NHS in England alone deals with more than 4,000 written complaints a week. This means every consultant will have to consider and investigate complaints as part of their job.

Juniors can be protected from this stressful and taxing process, so learn some practical tips and advice about navigating a complaint in an effective manner.

Finance
The world of financial jargon and budgets is not always one that doctors want to, or expect, to be in. But with costs for healthcare increasing, every doctor should know the cost of the decisions they make and the services they provide, senior doctors have told BMJ Careers.
The further up a consultant moves within their organisation, the more essential financial skills become.

Find out more practical advice and top tips on tackling these five aspects of being a consultant and where to turn for further support by accessing our guide today.

Back to listing