Retraining as a GP - Dr Haider Ali
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Dr Haider Ali

PCN GP Clinical Lead, Manchester Giants Basketball Team Doctor. Special interest in medical education and dermatology

I have the best job in the world, that’s right I’m an NHS GP.

During my junior doctor year rotations, my interest in general practice grew following a very satisfying 4 months with a ‘village’ GP. The local patient population encompassed everything from ‘typical’ acute illness management to specialist need in dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, sports medicine, drug and alcohol rehab to mention a few examples. This really piqued my interest, especially as I began to see how to hone my procedural skills in minor surgery and dermatology in a community-based setting and continue with medical education - which is another passion of mine. Fast forward to today. I am a clinical lead GP in a busy PCN and a dermatology lead for the practice I work in. One of my roles as a clinical lead involves managing staff expectation and well-being as well as having a managerial role in how the practice is run.

As I was working, I found that consultations in dermatology were poorly handled due to a lack of training - myself included. Recognising this I returned to being a student at Cardiff medical school in 2015 and gained my diploma (with a merit) which has changed my practice entirely.

At medical school I ran the basketball team for some years both as a president of the group as well as a student doctor mentor, a role I valued greatly. I believe that work should be a balance of the things we need to do and the things we love to do and in sports medicine I truly found that perfect point.

It may come as no surprise to learn that during this pandemic I’ve managed to get involved with a local British basketball team – The Manchester Giants who needed to become ‘covid secure’. I’ve helped to set up protocols, caring for staff and players alike. It has been an invaluable experience that has opened up various doors in the world of professional sport. The biggest challenge is managing elite athletes’ mental health which has reinforced to me increasingly, how mindful we need to be of our own mental health.  

Balancing my clinical work in the practice (8 clinical sessions) against my sports medicine responsibilities, I still manage to fit in my main passion – medical education.

I started a social media page on Instagram (@health_fitness_doc) as a way of providing regular cases to health care professionals in training. During the last 2 years and throughout the pandemic I’ve written 4 medical books (all free). They have been adopted by a physician associates university course in the midlands which has been a personal triumph. I spend some time organising sport/activities for health care professionals who are stressed, such as boxercise and HIIT (high intensity interval training) which has earned me an honorary title from the World Boxing Council, I did tell you anything is possible!

Covid has created physical, psychosocial, and organisational changes throughout the world and I’m sure many of these impacts are yet to be felt. In my practice, we are having to work differently, be more efficient to cope with the overwhelming patient demand and expectation which is often made worse through unrealistic representation and reporting of physician workload in the mainstream media. Its something we want to do – well.

Thankfully, the beauty of general practice is that you really can do anything you put your mind to.

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