With the beginning of a new year comes new year’s resolutions. These often relate to our health and we often don’t see them through to the end of the year, but there are some changes which are easy to achieve and might make a big difference to your day-to-day personal and professional life. Dr Kathryn Leask, Medico-Legal Adviser at the Medical Defence Union, shares a few resolutions to get the new decade off to a good start.

Check that your Contact Details are Up-to-Date

The General Medical Council expect you to let them know when your contact details change. Not doing so could run the risk of them not being able to contact you about important news or about your registration and revalidation. In the worst-case scenario, your registration could lapse with the risk of you finding that you have been working without General Medical Council registration or indemnity. It’s also important to make sure that your Royal College and medical defence organisation also have your up-to-date contact details.

Check your Indemnity

It’s important that your indemnity provider has the correct information about your professional role, the hours you work, and any additional roles you may have, for example, if you help out at sporting events or carry out private work. Not keeping your medical defence organisation up-to-date could jeopardise any assistance you may need.

Set Goals for your Professional Development

It’s easier to ensure that you engage in an adequate amount of professional development if you make a plan for your next appraisal year. Make sure that you complete any mandatory training set by your employer and consider any gaps in your knowledge or areas of interest when planning your CPD. It’s important not just to focus on clinical aspects of your role. A lot of the complaints which the Medical Defence Union assist members with involve responding to communication failure. Update your communication skills, conflict resolution training and breaking bad news training to avoid any difficult situations with patients that may lead to a complaint.

Keep your CPD Log Book Up-to-Date

The emphasis on recording your professional development has changed over the last few years with less onus on collecting certificates and more on reflections and considering how what you have learned will impact on your practice. There are a number of apps and CPD diaries available which allow you to record your reflections immediately. Keeping on top of this ensures that you are ready for your appraisal and don’t forget any of the key messages which you have learned.

Make Time for Yourself

The media is full of reports of the workload which doctors face and stress and burn-out within the profession. Take time to look after your own physical and mental health by eating well, exercising and taking time out to relax and enjoy yourself. It’s important to make sure that you address any of your own health concerns.

Remember that the General Medical Council expect doctors to seek and follow independent medical advice rather than diagnose and treat themselves.

Check your Settings

With such busy lives, social media makes it much easier to keep up-to-date with friends and family and find out what is happening in the world. Do you know who is following you or whether your privacy settings are set appropriately? Have you inadvertently become friends with a patient or could a journalist gain access to your Facebook account and photographs?

Keep Patient Data Safe

Most breaches of confidentiality are made accidentally, whether this is during a discussion in a place that isn’t private, or by leaving notes in view of others. The use of electronic devices and electronic means of communication are becoming more common and this comes with its own risks. Have you got confidential patient information on your laptop, tablet or phone? If so, what does your employer’s confidentiality policy say about this? Is the information password protected or encrypted so that the data is safe if the device fell into the wrong hands?

Check Your Finances

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re thinking about retirement, it is important to have a handle on your finances. You might want to seek advice about additional voluntary contributions to your pension or how tax allowances might affect you. Have you got any policies in place that no longer cover your needs or do you need to think about what you would do if you were unable to work? Make sure that you declare any additional earnings to avoid any unpleasant surprises from the tax office.

Don’t be a Victim

Cyber fraud is an ever-growing problem and while internet banking is very convenient, it comes with its own risks. Is it time to change your passwords and increase your security settings for your bank account, credit card and mobile phone account? Some organisations allow you to set additional security features to increase the protection they provide. Keep a regular eye on your accounts so that you can spot any fraudulent activity early and keep the phone numbers you might need handy. Use passwords which you can remember and don’t write them down anywhere they could be found.

For more information, visit www.themdu.com.