I’m a GP trainee in Middlesbrough, starting ST2 in August 2020 and I plan to work full time as GP once I qualify.
I’m fascinated by the primary care system in England as it doesn’t just involve the treatment of medical complaints, but all the different aspects that can contribute to a person’s wellbeing. The holistic aspect of being a GP is what appeals the most and supporting patients with their physical and mental health, as well as financial issues, their social needs, and community elements for example assessing needs for old, frail and patients with disabilities. Also ensuring continuity of care, the bond you develop with your patients is very rewarding. The experience you get during home visits is immense.
I’ve tried out different specialities throughout my training, including psychiatry and surgery, and each time the aspects I have enjoyed the most have been the clinics and having direct patient contact. I’d be really interested in running endoscopy and colonoscopies clinics once I qualify, which will allow me to carry out different elements of care in different settings. I also have an interest in dermatology and would like to be able to manage cases within primary care without referring patients to hospitals. Being a GP will give me the opportunity and flexibility to focus on a range of interests and not be restricted to one speciality.
I’ve experienced some negative comments about my career path during my medical training – often that it’s easier to become a GP and easier to practice. I would respectfully disagree with this perspective as in my experience the training is very rigorous, and clinics are incredibly busy. Being a GP is a clinical art – in hospital you are often dealing with one issue, compared with a 10-minute appointment with a patient where you are often trying to solve multiple issues in a limited time. GPs need to be good at what they do to ensure that when patients are referred to acute care they are triaged correctly. It’s a tough job and a challenging field and definitely not the easy option for a career in medicine.
Another benefit to GP is the work life balance as this has allowed me to pursue hobbies alongside work. My biggest interest outside of work is clay pigeon shooting. I find it’s really good for dealing with stress and I actually find it echoes my work in many ways as it requires time and focus to be successful. The maxim for clay pigeon shooting is “pull, aim and shoot” in order to hit your target. As a GP I look to target problems and use my focus and expertise to shoot down disease.
My best advice for people considering a career in GP is to think about their own interests and how they could weave these into their work. Being a GP means you can specialise in whatever you choose, as well as delivering a holistic and multi-disciplinary method of patient care.