Euan Strachan-Orr GP ST3, Mersey
My introduction to general practice was through a placement in my Foundation Year 2, which gave me a flavour of what life in GP would be like. I also knew GP trainees who were working across the UK and after chatting to them and my foundation post, I knew my career would be as a GP rather than a hospital doctor. I really enjoyed the contact with so many different patients each week, and soon realised the scope and flexibility to undertake other opportunities would suit me. Even as a trainee, I’ve been lucky enough to pursue my interests. The diversity of the clinical presentations, the variety of opportunities, and the ability to serve a local population over a long period of time, all contributed to my decision.
For me, I was keen to stay locally in northwest England, particularly Mersey. I had moved there from Glasgow for my foundation training and had really got to know how things worked in the local healthcare system. I liked that and was keen to keep up that level of understanding. Lots of my friends also wanted to stay local, so that was another key factor for me. GP is different to other specialties. The schemes are much more community based, and I found enjoyment as I got to know staff at the local hospitals that I would be sending patients to.
I undertook ST1 pre-covid, and my ST3 year during the pandemic. I’ve been able to experience first-hand just how adaptable and knowledgeable GPs need to be. The change in the way of working was forced onto the profession, but without the breadth of knowledge and skills of GPs, we would not have adapted and coped as well as we did. The use of more remote consultations, where appropriate, are excellent for both patients and clinicians. Although I have found them more challenging than face-to-face, I feel they are here to stay and am now a big fan of them personally.
I have to say simply having thanks from patients who you have helped - be it admitting to hospital urgently, or refer for an operation, seeing them at the other side is always a lovely moment.
I work with a team of practice nurses, healthcare assistants, physician associates, pharmacists and first contact physiotherapists. These roles are expanding and compared to when I first started as a trainee, have developed over the years. The importance of the wider multi-disciplinary team is so important as we serve an ageing population and increasing GP to patient ratios. As a GP trainee, I do feel I’ve been able to develop the skills needed to lead these sorts of teams which is good.
I’m lucky to be in a role where I can inform and influence national GP leaders, such as those at Health Education England, the Royal College of GPs, as well as working with others at the British Medical Association (BMA). I want to be able to stand up for both GP trainees, and the profession of General Practice. As national Chair of the BMA GP trainee committee, I have been able to chair committees, speak at conferences, and travel across the UK representing GP trainees. I opted to train less than full time (LTFT) while undertaking this position. Perhaps my example will begin to give you an idea of what you might be interested in and what we mean by the flexibility available to GP trainees. Having had this experience, I would highly recommend pursuing an additional side role alongside training or in practice – clinical or non-clinical.
Before I started, I don’t think I appreciated the number of people there are to help facilitate and support GP training - local educators, appraisers and mentors, training programme directors (TPDs) and Heads of School. And now I’m working, I can appreciate there are so many other roles such as working within primary care networks, GP with special interest (scope is endless) honestly the opportunities are only increasing! At the moment I can see myself going down the medical education route, possibly taking a post- graduate qualification.
First and foremost, I’ve got to get my head down and feet under the table for a few years to learn the ropes as a qualified GP.