Dr Richard Carter, GP in South Yorkshire.
Previously an SpR in Respiratory & General Medicine
I chose to change to General Practice whilst I was a Specialist Registrar in Respiratory and General Medicine. I had enjoyed much of my respiratory training, particularly bronchoscopy, chest clinic and yes sometimes even the adrenaline rush of being Med Reg on call! However, I had friends and family who were GP’s and could see that they too had a challenging and rewarding career but seemed to have more control over work/life balance. It was after our first daughter was born that I realised General Practice could offer a positive career change for me. I spoke to a number of colleagues and my training programme director who was very supportive and I applied for GP training. I chose the Rotherham GP training programme in South Yorkshire where my wife was already a trainee and known to have an excellent reputation locally.
I got a really good mix of jobs exactly in the areas I needed – Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Psychiatry in addition to 18 months in two different GP practices. The scheme offered interactive weekly half day release training and I met lots of new colleagues and friends, who I continue to meet with in First Five CPD groups. There were quite a few of us who’d been trainees in different specialities before switching so that was reassuring.
The MRCGP exams required real effort and application but I completed them as well as doing the DRCOG. There were opportunities too for GP trainee representation on various committees e.g. LMC, Primary Care STC as well as forming our own GP Trainee forum.
After completing my training, I stayed in the local area and became a salaried GP at a training practice with a population of around 11,000. I’ve really enjoyed the first 3 years. I’ve developed interests in other areas such as mental health and there are lots of respiratory cases in primary care too to keep me busy.
When you get talking to colleagues it’s amazing how many have switched from different specialties. It can be a real asset in primary care to have that bit more experience. I often find I’m managing the same complex multi-condition problems within our ageing population that I saw as a general medic. But in primary care you feel like you’re truly working with the patient, it’s a real privilege. Also, because of the flexibility that a career in general practice offers I have been able to balance my career with a busy family life. This is really important to me. There are many opportunities within primary care too if you’re looking for a portfolio career. Some of my colleagues have become involved with training, partnership, BMA, CCG, safeguarding, locuming, expedition medicine, sports medicine the list goes on and on. On reflection it’s been a really positive career move.