Career Stories - Dr Judith Neaves
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Dr Judith Neaves

GP, Associate in Rheumatology, GP Tutor, GP Appraiser, MRCGP examiner, Musculoskeletal Physician and Registered Osteopath, Cumbria

I trained as a GP over 30 years ago, with immense flexibility about where I work, from Surrey, Australia and the Outer Hebrides, to Norfolk and now where I live next to the Cumbrian fells. Great for rock climbing which I took up at the age of 50.

I trained in the 1980s. The programme was challenging and varied. I did train in anaesthetics, which I used as a GP anaesthetist in a remote part of Scotland called Benbecula. And what an experience that was, stunning scenery, rewarding work, using a wide range of medical skills. This demonstrated to me that I could have a portfolio career developing lots of different inter related skills which is great fun.

I left Scotland to train in musculoskeletal medicine and osteopathy in London at the London College of Osteopathic Medicine. I moved to Norfolk to work as GP, rheumatology and orthopaedics and as a GP trainer. I decided to take up rock climbing again and as my work is so flexible it only took me a few months to move to Cumbria.

I still work in rheumatology and have taken the opportunity to do more GP training, as well as being an appraiser and tutor. 20 years ago, I became the first salaried GP to become an MRCGP examiner. This means I work with a tremendous group of GPs on the panel, who are positive, interesting, dynamic and stimulating doctors. I became the Course Director of the osteopathic college I trained at for 10 years.

The bit I enjoy most? Consulting with patients, listening to their stories, the frequent challenge of diagnosis often with complex comorbidities and to agree a way forward with patients. I feel humble listening to their narrative and the healing affect that can have.

The intensity of work and difficulty of clinical problems and uncertainty, is there, alongside continuous change within all parts of the NHS. My antidote has been outdoor exercise and other interests beyond medicine.

GP practices offer much more flexibility for a career using GP skills as a base to develop other interests and skills. There’s no doubt if I had to choose now, it would be the same career all over again.

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