In both Altnagelvin and Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital, the health of so many patients is in the hands of first time doctors who are often at the frontline of medical care. A new three part series, First Time Doctors, produced by BelowTheRadarTV for BBC NI follows a batch of recent medical graduates as they walk onto the wards of the hospitals in Northern Ireland’s Western Health Trust for the first time. Over three episodes, starting on Wednesday, October 30 at 10.35pm on BBC One Northern Ireland, this observational series follows doctors who’ve come back to Northern Ireland to work for the first time as well as those from outside Northern Ireland who’ve been assigned to work in the mostly westerly part of the UK. We watch as these foot soldiers of the NHS struggle to cope with long hours, overnight shifts and the first experience of certifying death. In the first episode we meet Londonderry native Dr. Kevin Harkin who, after five years study in Liverpool, is happy to be back home and on the wards in Altnagelvin. One of his first reactions to no longer being a student doctor is that on the ward, when nurses and relatives are looking for a doctor, they mean him – and he doesn’t need to go looking for a more senior figure. Appearing alongside Kevin in this episode is London-born Dr Josh Walker who had never been to Northern Ireland before taking up a placement in the Western HSC in August 2018. Josh relishes the

prospect of being “a wee English boy in Derry” and adapting to his first job in the NHS. In the second episode viewers are introduced to the world and work of junior doctors in Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital where the slower pace of life is a culture shock to Hong Kong native Dr

Jacky Cheng. Filming over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the cameras capture the young doctors working over the holidays for the first time, the reality of winter bed pressures and the demands of night shift in A & E. The third episode sees Dungiven born doctor, Adele Heaney take to the wards of Altnagelvin for the first time. She displays few nerves but admits that the long evening shifts, working across several wards, is demanding and without any glamour. Soon she’s not just tied to the bleeper which means she’s on call to many wards at the same time, but working alongside medical students who come to Altnagelvin for practical training and experience. Series Producer Stephen Douds said of the series: “Before starting to work on this series, someone described these two foundational years for graduate doctors as the ‘worst part of medical training.’ Pretty quickly that became apparent as we captured on camera the ultimate test of resilience for these millennial medics: twelve-day shifts, on the spot decision-making, life and death scenarios with pretty much a non-existent social life. It’s as much a series about a rite of passage – getting a first job

and settling into the world of work as it is a series about doctors.”