Dr Keith Gomes Pinto, GPST3 FMLM Medical Fellow, Data, Insights and Statistics Directorate NHS Digital, previously General Surgery
Where to begin? I guess a bit of background may help put things into perspective. I’ve lived in 5 countries and graduated in the Czech Republic in 2008, so I have a bit of insight into how various healthcare systems work. Whether you are an International Medical Graduate, BAME, portfolio GP or thinking about switching specialities this may be helpful to you. Disclaimer - The experiences and views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the average surgical or GP trainee or any organisation that I worked for.
I am currently Out Of Programme as a Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) Medical fellow with NHS Digital based in Leeds. The path that led me here has been convoluted and serendipitous. After my foundation training in the Oxford Deanery, I moved to the South West of England and never looked back. I embarked on a career as a General Surgeon which was the primary reason for going to medical school. General Practice would have been at the bottom of my list if anyone asked me what specialty I could see myself in. It was a combination of poor acknowledgment of what being a GP entailed and not understanding how rewarding it can be as a career.
So why the switch? I loved everything about being a general surgeon. I finished my core surgical training in the SW before working as a registrar for 3 years. These years were truly fulfilling but I wanted to explore other opportunities and personally found it hard to have a good work-life balance. This led to a crossroads and the very difficult decision of switching career paths.
I am currently at the end of my training as a GPST3 in the Severn Deanery and cannot speak highly enough of the training programme. So what’s so special about GP training?
You are not a number – Trainers and trainees are largely supportive of each other and the specialty breeds a culture of openness and transparency through constant reflection and engagement on training days. The scheme has led me to be a better clinician – my consultations skills have markedly improved and become more patient-focused through direct observation and feedback by clinical mentors in clinic. It is a privilege to have one-to-one focused training which is refreshing.
Opportunity – If motivated, the sky is the limit. Literally! I have managed to fit in 2 pre-CCT fellowships – Leadership, Management and QI fellowship with the University of Exeter and the National Medical Director’s Fellowship with NHS Digital. I have pursued my interest in Quality Improvement and set up local tutorials and conferences having also been trained by the NHS England Time for Care programme. I know of other trainees pursuing specialisms in other fields through post-graduate programmes.
Leadership – The specialty exudes leadership at every level. When you talk about inclusivity, no other specialty compares in trying to understand the views of trainees and involving them to help drive front-line change. Specialist trainees are able to bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and varying perspectives to the conferences and workshops that are set up to promote Leadership and QI - GP as a specialty is ahead of the game. I’ve had the privilege to sit on the Severn GP committee and gain insights into what the current issues affecting trainees are and help contribute to solutions.
There are a few drawbacks, but these pale in comparison to the positives. If you are used to working in a busy hospital team, it can feel lonely at times in a consultation room by yourself but it does depend on the culture of the practice you work in. The days in GP are long and the workload intense so the training is not to be taken lightly. The ability to switch mindsets from one specialism to another is an artform. Tie that in with the skill of recognising an unwell patient or spotting red flag symptoms elevates good clinical acumen to new heights that I thoroughly enjoy. Looking forward, if you want to vary your week with other passions, like being a GP with a specialist interest or getting involved in leadership and management roles, the job is even more rewarding.