Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus

Outpatient clinic sessions

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 04 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s99
  1. Faiyaz Mohammed, specialist registrar in gastroenterology
  1. Trafford General Hospital, Manchester M41 5SLsafai{at}

When preregistration house officers move to senior house officer grade they are expected to attend outpatient clinic sessions. Here are some tips on how to make sure your clinic sessions run smoothly.

  • Know exactly when and which clinics you are expected to attend. Plan your activities around clinic times. If you have a morning clinic then consider coming in early to check for any problems with your ward patients. This will reduce your chances of being disturbed while in clinic.

  • Arrive on time—a late start will inevitably delay the rest of the clinic.

  • Inform your consultant if you won't be available for a clinic (annual leave, night shifts, and so on). This should be done at least six weeks in advance so that appropriate changes can be made to the clinic list.

  • If you have to be in a clinic when you are also on call, ask your colleagues to help out—for instance, by holding your cardiac arrest bleep.

  • Always write something in the notes. Some doctors rely solely on a dictaphone to record the patient's visit, but it takes only one lost tape to realise the importance of having a written record.

  • Decide whether you will dictate letters after seeing each patient or whether you'll do all of them at the end of the clinic.

  • Establish with your consultant when it is best to discuss patients with him or her: after each patient, at the end of the clinic, or when investigation results are available. The royal colleges recommend junior doctors should discuss their patients with a senior colleague at some point.

  • Introduce yourself to each patient and remember to use chaperones during examinations.

  • Try to stick to time limits if possible. This can sometimes be difficult but is necessary in a busy clinic.

  • Read and sign letters as soon as they are available so that they can be sent out quickly to general practitioners and other specialists.

  • Check results of investigations ordered and arrange appropriate actions.

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