Foundation Year 2 Trainee, Manchester
Despite the role of a traditional ‘family doctor’ changing a great deal over the years, becoming a GP was always my intention when I applied to Medical School. Unfortunately, through-out my training I faced some negativity towards general practice. I heard comments such as ‘isn’t GP just coughs and colds… don’t GPs burnout … are you going to specialise or just be a GP’. This concerned me and some even suggested that GP was inferior to other specialities which I know is not the case. I decided to gather more information and found that I could easily overcome the negative stigma with positive things I had learned and experienced for myself.
Throughout Medical School I did consider other specialities but realised I didn't want to focus on just one body system for the rest of my career. It soon became clear I was a Generalist at heart! I had fantastic GP placements as a medical student and particularly as an FY2. These placements made me realise the privilege GPs have in getting to know their patients as they help them through their journey. I began to appreciate and aspire to the level of skill GPs have as Expert Generalists. And in particular I enjoyed the challenge which comes with the variety of each consultation - the huge variety of patients, ages, cultures, social backgrounds and acute vs chronic disease. In the last few years, I have attended GP conferences and careers events where I have learned just how varied a career in GP can be and the flexibility it can provide with regards to your work-life balance. All of these things have inspired me to pursue a career in general practice.
I would love to be a GP with a Special Interest (GPwSI) in Dermatology as it would enable me to obtain more specialist knowledge in an area that is hugely relevant to general practice and that I find interesting. I could even incorporate a more practical element to my working week if I were to obtain skills in minor surgery. I would also like to teach students and within this role I hope to provide education on lifestyle medicine as this is something I am passionate about.
If you’re considering going into general practice, the key message I hope you can take from my experience is to challenge any stigma you may meet as you explore this career option. Challenge it by learning more about the speciality, networking with GPs and most importantly by experiencing the job for yourself. In practical terms, if you’re a medical student or foundation doctor, opt to do a GP placement and attend some GP conferences. You will network with like-minded individuals. I have found this particularly inspiring and empowering as we are the next generation of GPs!