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A day in the life of a SAS Doctor at UHNM

As part of SAS Doctor Awareness Week Dr Hannah McKee, Specialty Doctor Emergency Medicine explains the important part these speciality and specialist doctors place in the NHS workforce and here at UHNM.

“SAS Doctors (Specialty Doctors, Associate Specialists and Specialists) are an important part of the NHS workforce. All too often we’re described by the things we’re not; we’re not consultants and we’re not trainees.

This needs to change.

We are substantive members of staff who bring with us a wealth of experience, knowledge and dedication to our teams. Many of us hold additional roles within the organisation that enrich our career paths and contribute to the wider NHS.

I am a Specialty Doctor in Emergency Medicine and work at both of our EDs in Royal Stoke and County Hospitals. I have worked at UHNM since 2015 and previously worked in Norwich and Great Yarmouth since graduating from Dundee University in 2006. Here is what a week in my life can look like:


Today I am working in the ED 8am to 5pm as a Senior Decision Maker (SDM)for the patients in the Majors and Ambulance Assessment area. I work with the nurse in charge to coordinate the care of the many varied patients we see in the ED. Another part of the job is to support and advise other members of our team including the Post Graduate Doctors in Training (Junior Doctors), Advanced Care Practitioners, and Locally Employed Doctors (LEDs) as well as liaising with other specialty teams to ensure our patients move through the system via the appropriate specialties. At the end of my shift I handover the area to the next SDM and make my way home.


Tuesdays are usually my Foundation Training Programme Directors (FTPD) at UHNM. I am one of four FTPDs and lead for the F2 doctors. Every other week is the F2 teaching day and in the morning I hold a forum to check in with them and keep them up to date with any important information regarding their training programme.

My responsibilities in this role include planning the F2 teaching programme by arranging speakers and sessions covering a variety of aspects of the Foundation Curriculum, conducting annual reviews for all of the F2 doctors to sign off their training as well as providing educational and pastoral support to the F2 doctors. I really enjoy this role providing support for Foundation Doctors and get a lot of professional fulfilment from it.


Today I am in the office in the Emergency Department. My administrative roles in the ED cover educational supervision for F1 doctors, mental health lead and part of the department’s wellbeing team.

At 10am it is the ED Senior Tier meeting involving consultants, SAS doctors, senior nurses and management.

In the afternoon there is a meeting regarding the care of mental health patients in the ED – other agencies including the police, social care and local mental health trust are also at this meeting to ensure we’re doing the best we can.

I then have a supervisor meeting with one of the F1 doctors – I really enjoy my role in supporting these doctors during their first year out of medical school.


Today is my shift in resus 8am -5pm. The sickest and most complex patients are cared for in our resus area. We have eight beds and are often managing multiple patients with different problems simultaneously. The resus team is led by one of the consultants in the role as Trauma Team Leader (TTL), then there’s me as well as two other clinicians or Advanced Care Practitioners.

Resus shifts involve caring for major trauma patients, resuscitation of the critically unwell and safely sedating patients for procedures such as reductions of fractured and dislocated ankles.

These shifts are busy, tiring, but ultimately the best part of Emergency Medicine for me. I go home at 5pm, exhausted, but proud of what I have been able to achieve for my patients.


This morning I am dealing with any SAS Tutor business. There are over 150 SAS doctors at UHNM across every division. My role involves developing educational and developmental opportunities for SAS doctors as a whole, but also supporting individual colleagues with any specific needs they have. I also represent the SAS doctors at Executive Workforce meetings and produce reports regarding the talent we have within the SAS workforce.

This afternoon is my afternoon off – I am fortunate to be able to annualise my hours within ED and have some control over when I have shifts. This allows me to have a good life/work balance whilst still being able to develop and progress my own career.


I work 1 in 4 weekends in the ED, some are long days and some are night shifts. The SAS 2021 contract ensures that I can work no more than 13 weekends in a year which is important to look after my own personal wellbeing.

My career as a SAS doctor has allowed me the security of a substantive contract in one geographical location with the opportunities to explore different roles and responsibilities that align with my own interests and skill set. Education plays a strong part in my career and it is something I get a great deal of professional and personal satisfaction from.

Being “Stokie” born and bred, I am proud to work at UHNM and serve my local community.