Career Stories - Dr Sarah Jarvis
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Dr Sarah Jarvis, MBE

Media GP, Locum and Clinical Director of Patient.info

I remember the GP came to our house to visit my father and listened patiently while I bombarded him with questions. The rest is history.  

Make no mistake, being a GP is challenging and it's a very different career than it was when I entered it 31 years ago. But I can tell you that it's always intellectually stimulating, endlessly fascinating and every bit as rewarding as I expected it to be.

As a GP trainee, I was invited by my trainer to become a rep for my local Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) faculty. I was enthralled at the work that went on behind the scenes around developing and supporting high quality care for patients and this reinforced my commitment to GP. I went on to become trainee rep on the national RCGP Council and then a founder member and Chair of the women's health taskforce, which aimed to reduce what were at the time, clear sex inequalities in the profession.

I became a partner the day after I qualified in a deprived inner-city practice – where I felt I could make more of a difference in an area like this.

Through the RCGP, I was a spokesperson on women's health for over 10 years. I was presenting on behalf of the College at a national meeting on ‘women and alcohol and ITV news wanted an interview. A week later they rang me again to provide an opinion and a week after that I was invited to become ITV lunchtime news doctor. So you can see, how I entered the media world was entirely by accident and everything since has been a progression - I’ve never applied for a ‘role.’

Being on TV or radio isn't easy and media medicine is definitely not an alternative to being a GP. It isn't glamorous and it’s definitely not lucrative, but it is a really important way of getting across health information to a large number of people. The biggest compliment anyone can pay me, is that I make a lot of sense. I cannot imagine how I would have had the confidence without my years of knowledge and experience in general practice behind me and you can probably see how my various roles complement each other. It was an honour to be awarded an MBE in 2018 for ‘services to general practice and public understanding of health.’

I was a GP trainer for 24 and partner for 27 years, so a few years ago, I couldn't resist the opportunity and decided to reduce my full time GP workload. I’m happy to do locum sessions and I took on the role as Clinical Director of Patient.info which is a website I had used daily for 20 years in my professional life, to help provide information for patients.

For any doctor who’s interested in the breadth and scope of medical practice, take a serious look at GP and tailor your career accordingly.

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