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A training programme director

A day in the life of a training programme director

I'm awake before the alarm goes off. I listen to the news headlines while having a quick look at my emails. 

Good news: a trainee is 16 weeks pregnant after several rounds of IVF. I am delighted for her and her husband. 

Bad news: there’ll be a gap in the rotation plot when she goes on maternity leave. 

Cycle to work 

Good news: get a green light roll most of the way there and only encounter one red light. 

Bad news: it’s raining.

Head to the changing room

Good news: I’m early, it's empty and I don't have to make polite conversation. 

Bad news: the scrub machine has been filled in a random fashion and my scrub top is a different colour to the trousers (my anaesthetic OCD kicks in).

Review the emergency list

Good news: there are some interesting cases on it and I'm on with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable trainee.

Bad news: the list is a complete work of fiction and will change at least three times before 08:30. 

Head to the coffee room

Good news: there's an empty chair and my can of Diet Coke is really cold.

Bad news: the night staff look absolutely frazzled. It's been a monster of a night and they've had two theatres, obs, neuro and the cath lab running overnight. The on-call consultants have been in and there are lists that will need covering as they head home to recover. We have a chat and a quick debrief as they hand over the patients on the emergency list. 

Get on with the emergency list

Good news: I love my job, I really do.

Bad news: lots of interruptions. 

Pop down to the office
Good news: I have my own desk in the office. 
Bad news: my colleague's paperwork is metastasising across my desk from hers. 

Look at the programme plot

Good news: I've got lots of folk coming back from OOPT/E/R. I think time out of programme is so important for those who wish to take it. It's an opportunity to gain experience and training to shape their CV for the consultant post they want and they bring back a new take on ways to do things. 

Bad news: fiddle with my multicoloured rotation plot (Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat has nothing on my Excel spreadsheet) and sort out the next job changeover. There are gaps. We will cope. I would much rather have the right trainee in the right job at the right time for their life and their training rather than just having a bum on a seat. 

Stick my head in the admin office

Good news: our admin staff are superb and support the consultants and trainees so well. 

Bad news: no biscuits. 

Back to theatre

Good news: only one more case to do before handing over to the on-call team. 

Bad news: it's going to be smelly… 

Cycle home

Good news: it's stopped raining. 

Bad news: every traffic light on the way home is red. 

Check my email

Good news: the ARCP panels have been filled. I enjoy ARCPs and seeing the trainees face-to-face is so valuable. It's a chance to review the year, both the highs and lows. I like to celebrate excellence and give encouragement where change is needed. The panel reviews the CV and makes suggestions and we can plan the next couple of years of training. 

Bad news: HEE want to move to in absentia ARCPs. 

That's me done for the day. I’ll leave you with my three things to remember for life as an anaesthetist: 

1. 'No' is a complete sentence

2. Always know when your next lot of annual leave is

3. No one ever said on his or her deathbed 'I wish I'd spent more time at work'

Written anonymously. This article was originally published in Anaesthesia News, June 2018

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