Salaried GP Surrey, Clinical Lead for Frailty and Ageing Well at Surrey Heath with special interest in Medical Law and Ethics (LLM)
I think I always knew that I wanted to be a GP and that was confirmed on my general practice rotation during my foundation training. I realised early on that this is the specialty that truly enables you to practice medicine across multiple specialties with the ability to build doctor-patient relationships from birth to death across multiple generations of the same family. I went straight from FY2 to GPST but do know of doctors who have switched to GP training later in their career.
Although being a GP is not as ‘easy’ as I’ve heard claimed, there is an amazing work-life balance that can be struck, which helps to balance the challenges. There’s opportunity to either enhance your career, or importantly spend time with your loved ones, which I’m not sure is always the case in other medical careers. I make time to head off and watch my football team play at weekends both home and away. I even manage to enjoy gardening and photography since becoming a GP. Even more amazingly, I’ve taken up running!
At present I’m a salaried GP at Lightwater Surgery in Surrey, where I completed my training in 2018 and I’ve taken on the clinical lead role across one area of the local CCG, covering frailty and ageing well. The aim is to improve mental and physical health, working with other healthcare providers such as social care and hopefully start to prevent any unnecessary hospitalisations.
I’m proud to be part of a wonderful team and able to build great working relations with all staff, from clinical to administrative as well as providing continuity of care for my patients. I’d like to be a GP partner in the future, however that route is not for everyone and certainly not the only path you need to take to lead a successful career.
Further to my clinical work, I’ve managed to complete a part-time distance learning course and gained my master’s in medical law and ethics (LLM) at the University of Edinburgh. General Practice allows you to take control of the amount of clinical work you do so that you can find time to do postgraduate courses. My master’s course has complemented the roles and interests that I enjoy and hopefully will shape my future career.
One of my main roles at the surgery is the lead for our local care home. This has challenged me to care for a large elderly population with often complex health needs across both physical and mental health. It’s often said that being a GP can be quite lonely. In my experience, this role has proved that nothing could be further from the truth. I’m supported by a community matron, care home manager and many other health and social care professionals. I am passionate about improving care for our increasingly frail population in the community.
Every GP is a leader in their own right. I have been fortunate to develop my own leadership skills in a variety of roles and courses. I was the GPST lead at Frimley Park Hospital and was able to represent the KSS Deanery. This role helped to ensure high quality training in the various specialties on offer. Furthermore, I undertook the Edward Jenner Programme with the NHS leadership academy - an online programme and easily accessible to all. I have participated in a local Next Generation GP course, a national leadership programme that was run locally by the Frimley Integrated Care System to help develop leadership skills for trainee and newly qualified GPs.
The opportunity to educate others is very possible. At present I teach medical students at Kings College London. In particular, I undertake weekly seminars for final year students on their GP placements where we discuss interesting cases or challenges they’ve come across. I have also been involved in communication and clinical skill days for second and third year students too. There are many opportunities to do GP focused teaching for medical students nationally, especially as there’s a bigger drive for community based teaching in medical school curricula now. I’m planning to apply to become a GP trainer in the near future!
I really enjoy the variety in my patient work. I currently work for a local out of hours provider, North Hampshire Urgent Care. I can select the shifts I would like to work either evenings or weekends. The great thing I find about out of hours work is usually you are tackling acute problems which require good immediate management plans to help the patient. Of course, you don’t have to do out of hours work when you’re qualified if you prefer not to.
Hopefully you can already see there is so much variety General Practice can offer, with endless more opportunities that might suit your own particular interests and skill set. I would encourage you to get stuck in and explore your own passions. If you do decide to apply for specialty training, you will not regret your decision to do so!