Rev Dr Anne Kazich, 49, Skelmersderdale
Rev Dr Anne Kazich left medicine in 2012 to train to become a Church of England priest. In June 2018 she returned to practice, having gone through the NHS GP Induction and Refresher (I&R) scheme. She now works part-time as a GP and part-time as a priest in Skelmersdale.
I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the age of 10. I grew up and went to medical school in Hamburg but did an elective in Preston, where my sister was living at the time. When I finished my medical degree I came to England for a year and decided to become a GP here. I loved the idea that you get to see patients through from birth to death and preferred the way we do general practice in England.
Once I qualified, I started working as a GP in Liverpool. I loved being a GP but my faith has been important to me all my life and I’d always been involved in church life. After a few years, I found that the practice was getting busier, I was the only partner who was working full-time clinical sessions and the culture wasn’t supportive.
In 2010 I moved into a part-time salaried role and explored the idea of becoming a priest. I eventually left general practice in 2012 to begin training as a priest and I didn’t think about coming back.
During my curacy in Skelmersdale, I became aware of the socio-economic issues in the area and saw myself having a community-based role as priest, but at the time there was no funding for that. Within a diocese each area has a certain number of stipend posts allocated and Skelmersdale had no stipend spare.
I always felt my 'ministry' was not within church, but among the people out in the community. So, in 2017 I started exploring returning to general practice and met up with a partner of a local GP practice who I had met through my curacy. Initially we explored a chaplaincy/patients advocate role, but as they were looking to recruit, the question of whether I would consider returning to general practice came up. Since I had already considered that option, with a view to self-funding my other role as ‘priest in the community’, I asked whether it would be possible to wear my collar in the surgery and the answer was ‘yes’, which excited me!
I started getting things rolling in summer 2017 by exploring the returner scheme through HEE. After the initial interview and paperwork I sat an exam to see where my knowledge was up to. The exams weren’t nearly as hard as I thought they would be and I did fairly well.
I was then given a three-month placement with the Beacon Primary Care practice. My placement was great, very supportive. They tailored my timetable according to my needs and I had regular tutorials. At the end of my placement there was a final review, taking into account an interview and a written placement report, after which I was ’signed off’ as ready to go back as fully qualified GP.
In June 2018 I started working at Beacon as salaried GP. I work three days a week as a GP and two days as a priest, which works well for me in terms of a healthy balance.
Coming back to general practice felt like coming home. As I have a passion for healing and a holistic approach, I’m glad because two vocations have come together in a way I would have never dreamed of.
Patients generally react positively to me wearing my collar in the practice; it opens up different conversations. Spirituality is so important to the holistic health of a person. It’s also exciting to be able to do more social prescribing. Due to my links within the community as a priest, I can signpost patients to more organisations.
It’s been a steep learning curve. Beacon is a very busy practice spread over four sites. With work split among other members of the team, like advanced nurse practitioners, often what comes through to me as a GP is more complex than before.
After nine months back in paid employment I feel now that I’ve found my bearings and am getting back into a routine. It’s fulfilling. We have a great team who are very supportive, which makes a big difference.
For anyone thinking about returning to practice, I would encourage them to shadow a GP to see how it feels and how things might have changed.
If you feel motivated to come back to general practice, the returner scheme is a well-resourced thing to do. Even if it’s overwhelming at first, you will catch up. Don’t be too hard on yourself and give it time.