Career Stories - Dr Chris Campbell
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Dr Chris Campbell

GP Partner, Lead GP, Out of Hours GP and Educationalist, Devon

When I was 18, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Part of me wanted to go and work in the city, part of me wanted to be a doctor and part of me wanted to be cabin crew and travel the world. At the end of Year 13, I had applied to study at The London School of Economics and had my heart set on a career in the city. But after my mother was taken ill and spending time with her in hospital, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. I declined my place at business school, took a gap year and did some extra A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry and applied for Medical School.

My grandparents were from Tavistock, Devon and I had fond memories of school holidays there, so I decided to study at The Peninsula Medical School and was accepted after a tough selection process. Throughout my gap year and Medical School, I worked for RedDoc, an out of hours general practice, initially starting as a call operator and then becoming a supervisor. I met several inspirational GPs and decided I wanted to be a GP when I graduated.

During my time at medical school in the West Country, I trained in Plymouth, Exeter and Truro. I fell in love with Exeter and decided when I qualified that’s where I wanted to pursue my career as a GP. Medical school was not the easiest journey, as someone who was not the most academic I found the adult learning environment quite challenging, luckily with a great network of friends and colleagues I passed.

My house jobs were all done in Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, and I developed an interest in urgent care, by doing a number of locum shifts in The Emergency Department. I was accepted onto the highly competitive Exeter GP VTS training scheme and went to St Leonard’s Surgery for my training. The partners at this practice were exceptional and set a high standard. They showed me what life as a General Practitioner could be like in terms of work life balance, educational and research opportunities. I was truly inspired by Sir Dennis Pereira Gray who still had close links to the surgery.

In my final six months of VTS, I started my family and had a lovely daughter. With the responsibility of becoming a father, I was keen for some stability. I took on a partnership in Torquay the day after completing VTS alongside working for the Out of Hours. Unfortunately, the long hours and commute with a young family meant that this partnership didn’t work out. I was lucky enough to be recruited to a smaller partnership in Exeter, where I was able to work 3 days a week and combine my out of hours work.

I began to develop an interest in teaching and became involved with Peninsula (now Exeter) Medical School. Initially I was involved with students on placement, then I became an academic tutor, OSCE examiner and special study unit provider. I was able to combine my enjoyment of teaching with day to day general practice. A keen member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), I was asked to become the Educational Lead for Exeter, where I run very successful teaching events for GPs, ANPs and other HCPs every month. To further my knowledge, I am studying part time for my Masters in Clinical Education at Exeter University and this has led me to become a Honorary Clinical Lecturer. I felt the next natural step was to become a GP trainer and currently have my second trainee in practice.

My interest in management also grew, with a part time role as Clinical Director for a large out of hours organisation in the South West and later as a Lead GP for another out of hours provider, allowing me to use my knowledge and expertise outside the clinical environment. I found reducing my clinal sessions, made me enjoy clinical practice far more.

Although reading this, it sounds like I am a very busy doctor, in fact the only commitment that is fixed in stone is my part time partnership work, the rest of my portfolio allows me to have flexible working, working around my family, friends and other commitments, doing things which I enjoy. Although the journey has been hard work, I now have a career and lifestyle which makes me truly happy and look forward to waking up and going to work every day.

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