Decisions made – what next?

Once an investigation or hearing has completed and a decision has been made many health professionals may be left feeling very lost, bewildered and not sure what to do next.

If the decision has been favourable and you are able to return to work (possibly with conditions on your practise) you might want to consider how you prepare yourself for this and any adjustments, you need to make. See Stage 8 – Returning to work for more information on this.

However, if the decision is that you are going to be suspended for a period of time or even erased from the professional register this will have a significant impact on you and those around you.

Doctors in our patient group describe their initial feelings:

“What did this mean for my future?”

“I knew what was coming but it was still a shock - I hadn’t prepared myself. I was gutted”

“It felt like I had gone from one catastrophe to another, it became surreal”

Immediate aftermath

In those first moments after hearing a negative decision many health professionals will naturally feel upset and confused. Hopefully you will have a trusted friend or family member who has come to the hearing with you and who you can turn to for support.

You may be feeling angry or that you were somehow treated unfairly and it’s important to acknowledge these feelings.

For many health professionals their medical self is a form of identity – the right to be called a Doctor – something that you will have worked hard to achieve for a number of years. It is understandable that the loss of your ability to practise will hit you hard. Some people describe it almost as a form of bereavement and you may be wondering how you will self-identify moving forward:

“It felt like a social death – I no longer had an identity”

Next steps

What you do next will determine what lies in your future. Now is the moment to take stock and consider what you are going to do to move forward with your life.

If your goal is to get back to practise at some point in the future, then now is the time to start making a plan to get you there. See Stage 6 – Remediation for tips on how to ensure you build the evidence that will enable the regulator to consider your case for re-instatement onto the register in the future.

If you have decided that you will move away from a medical career, there are lots of options to consider. See Stage 7 – Options when not working for suggestions on how you can use the skills and experiences you have learnt to find an alternative career path.

Seek proper guidance to help you with planning the next steps and have people around you that you trust, who won’t judge you but who will also have your best interest in mind and be honest with you about what you should do next.

“I knew I had to take the decision on the chin and try to put things right. I had to accept that what I did was wrong and that’s why I was in this position – now I had to focus on putting it right”

The doctors in our group in our group had a series of tips they wanted to share with health professionals who find themselves in this position:

  1. Do not give up hope – address your problems as soon as possible
  2. Don’t entrench yourself in a position of feeling bitter and angry, that’s harder to come back from
  3. Be honest with yourself and those around you
  4. Accept what’s happened and start anew
  5. It’s never too late to start your journey back, know where you want to get to
  6. There is everything to play for with the right personal and professional support

Start every day thinking – What do I know today? What can I do today?

"Each day, life will send you little windows of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of opportunity".

Robin Sharma, The Greatness Guide