Dr Elizabeth Meredith, GP in Hampshire.
Previously a Rheumatology Registrar
From fairly early on at medical school I knew I wanted to be a general physician after some great placements with inspiring consultants and was always quite adamant I would never do general practice, I think mostly because I came from a family of GP’s and didn’t want to simply follow in their footsteps.
By the end of Core Medical Training my enthusiasm for hospital medicine was starting to wane as I realised I didn’t really want to be a specialist and missed being able to use the wide knowledge base I had acquired at medical school. I didn’t like the idea of becoming deskilled in other areas of medicine that I loved. I started to look into GP training but felt that I should give specialty training a go as it was what I always thought I would do.
I ended up applying for three specialties and got offered all of them and decided to accept rheumatology. However, on my first day when a consultant asked me what I wanted to specialise in, I was shocked. I was already specialising in general medicine with rheumatology, but no, I would need to decide which area of rheumatology I wanted to take a special interest in. This seemed to me to be further deskilling and overspecialisation.
As I continued registrar training I also realised that I disliked the hospital environment more and more. I found it dehumanising towards patients, always seeing them out of context from their real lives and finding serious illness ‘normal’. I also found the hospital a frustrating place to work where often there was conflict between specialties and departments as well as within departments rather than everyone working together for the benefit of the patient. My father, a GP, would say to me ‘sounds like you should do general practice’ and I eventually realised he was right.
I have loved the transition and am so glad I made the change. My previous experience is invaluable so I don’t regret the path I took - it has made me a better and more confident GP and I’m not left wondering ‘what if’. I know I have made the right choice for me and enjoy going to work as a salaried GP in a well-run practice with an excellent team. I now feel I am a true general physician, no regrets.