Dr Katrina Butterworth (from the series GPs: Behind closed doors)
Overseas and medical education GP, Bradford
One of the things I love about general practice is its infinite variety and the opportunity to have flexibility throughout your career.
I graduated as a GP in 1996, but always knew that I wanted to spend some time working overseas. In fact, I chose general practice after researching which type of doctor was most valuable and useful in the developing world. I did a three-month Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Liverpool and then in January 1997 moved to Nepal, working for BMS world mission under the umbrella of United Mission to Nepal.
Initially I worked in a village community health clinic, learning Nepali, providing primary health care services and then expanding to be the clinical supervisor for a small leprosy hospital where I developed some basic surgical skills. Later, moving to Kathmandu, I started to expand my involvement in medical education which has always been an interest.
Over the 18 years that I lived and worked in Nepal, I did a distance learning course with Dundee University and gained my Masters in Medical Education. I helped to set up two of the four GP training schemes that currently run in Nepal and became involved in advocacy at a national government level to develop general practice further as a specialty. I was lucky enough to be part of a wonderful group of Nepali doctors who had a vision to become a medical school focusing on training young people from remote rural regions and equipping them with the skill set and motivation to go back to these areas to serve as doctors after graduation. It was a privilege to be part of this medical school (Patan Academy of Health Sciences) from its very inception, using my skills to be involved in curriculum development, assessment design, faculty development and research, as well as teaching and seeing patients. I was also part of a group that helped to pioneer palliative care services in Nepal.
Three years ago we moved back to the UK so that my teenage daughters could go to university here. I’m now working in a practice in a very multicultural part of Bradford as a salaried doctor. I am loving the opportunity to be more on the front line again with patients and the constant surprise of what will come through the door next. The practice is heavily involved in medical education, so I still get to teach undergraduate medical students, as well as continue in my role as a GP trainer.
I can’t recommend general practice highly enough. It’s the best job in the world!