10 August 2017
Starting your studies at a university is always exciting (and potentially worrying), so here are five top tips to make life as an operating department practitioner less stressful.
You are not expected to know everything in the first three weeks. It is a three-year course! Even if things feel a bit overwhelming at the start, try not to panic: you will feel better, and trust me, it will start to make sense.
If there is pre-lecture reading material, read it. It will help you understand and contribute in the lecture discussions. Be sure to interact during lectures – you only get out what you put in.
Plan your time well. Don’t let things mount up and be a lastminute.com sort of person with assignments and revision. All this does is add unnecessary pressure and stress.
If you are struggling or finding a certain aspect difficult, don’t be afraid to ask for help. ARU has a fantastic support network. Let your course tutor know, they can’t help if they don’t know something is wrong or troubling you.
You cannot remember everything, so I suggest keeping a diary. Use it to write in surgeons' and anaesthetists' preferences, airways used and surgical procedures witnessed that day. Write a mini reflection in it when things go good, or bad.
You will find yourself referring to it frequently throughout your training. Having this information organised and contained in one book is a lot easier to read than scraps of paper.
Try to always have a little notebook in your scrubs pocket. There are always things you see that you want to ask about, but it’s not the most appropriate time. Make a little note of it so you remember to ask when it is convenient. There is always so much going on in the theatre department it'is easy to forget things.
And finally... enjoy it. There will be tough times, even times that make you cry, but be assured the good times outnumber the bad.