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Follow Jobhunter's tips on wheedling your way into your new practice

and you could gather enough gossip to blackmail all the staff and GPs!

Settling into a new practice is not something that's taught at medical school, but follow these simple rules and within a week people will imagine you've been there for years.

·The kettle The most important thing to understand is that the practice kettle is not simply a device for boiling water. Find out where the kettle is and watch what happens around it. Do the doctors make their own tea or do they have it made for them? Do people linger round the kettle for a chat or scurry back to their rooms? When in doubt, do the latter. Eagle-eyed receptionists will be only too happy to label you a shirker.

·The boss Finding out who's the boss in a practice may not be as easy as it sounds. It can be the senior partner, the practice manager or a receptionist. If everyone seems to kow-tow to a junior member of staff be wary, their brother-in-law is probably the chief executive of the PCT.

· Smiling Be nice to receptionists. They're the ones who will ultimately decide your fate. Within the first few days of arrival you will be put into one of four categories: whinger, low noise, stroppy or exploitable.

· Be low noise The greatest accolade given to a doctor is that nobody knows they are there. 'She comes, she gets on with it and she goes. Sometimes, you hardly know she's there.'

· Bring edible gifts Practice staff like nothing better than bribery. Start as you mean to go on and be resigned to the fact that over the course of your career you will provide food equivalent to the intake of a small Third World country.

· Phone calls Make your own phone calls unless you are actually performing CPR on a collapsed patient. This is a major part of the low noise strategy. Doctors who ask receptionists to contact the medical registrar on call every five minutes are asking for a list full of heartsink patients.

· Emergency appointments You have to strike the right balance with this one. If you throw a fit every time someone asks you to see an extra patient you will be put in the stroppy category no matter if you spend the rest of your life bouncing around like Tony Blackburn. Take everything that comes and you will be labelled exploitable. Strike a balance. Welcome the first extra with open arms and chuck the next one back at the receptionist. This will keep them guessing and you may even be labelled 'psychotic' and everyone will treat you as if you were made of glass.

· Instruments If you're supplied with any instruments, hide them. Borrowing from other doctors is the best way to get known in the practice. Over time, build up a hoard of hard-to-get equipment like ophthalmascopes. Everyone will come to you, you'll be treated as a friend and confidante, and eventually gather enough gossip to blackmail the entire practice.

Dr Laurence Knott is a GP in Enfield

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