Foundation doctor guide

It’s longer than I care to remember since I qualified as a doctor but I will never forget my first weeks on the wards. 

There was a heady feeling of exhilaration at finally having the chance to apply the knowledge and skills I’d learned as a medical student. But at the same time, I was faced with so many situations – clinical and non-clinical – that I had never anticipated. And I barely had time to attend to one urgent call before I was confronted by something equally pressing.

In that hectic period, I was sustained by the support and camaraderie of my colleagues and quickly realised that good communication was essential for patient care and to make our lives easier. The importance of looking out for each other and being prepared to ask for help has always been true for the mental wellbeing of newly qualified doctors but has been brought home to all of us during the pandemic. 

My early experiences as a doctor have stayed with me to this day and I know this is true for my fellow medico-legal advisers, who have all been practising doctors. It means you can be sure that whenever you call the MDU for advice and support, you will speak to someone who empathises with your situation because they have been in your shoes.

This guide accompanies our Get set for FY1 webinar. In developing these resources, we’ve drawn on the experiences of newly qualified doctors, as well as my own. The scenarios are fictitious but based on cases from MDU files and typical of the ethical and practical challenges you may encounter. 

I hope they will be useful throughout your foundation training. Whatever happens, do remember that you’re not alone. Along with your colleagues, educational supervisor, family and friends, the MDU will be with you every step of the way.

Dr Catherine Wills

by Dr Catherine Wills Medico-legal adviser


Catherine joined the MDU in 2004 and is deputy head of the advisory department. Previously, Catherine was a hospital consultant in general medicine, diabetes and endocrinology.


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There's no denying it's been an incredibly tough year. That's why we're working with the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF), a UK charity that provides advice and support to doctors and medical students in serious hardship.

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