GP ST4 Coventry and Warwickshire, previously general surgery
The Career Switch
I qualified in 2004 and spent the first decade of my career training to be an academic obstetrician. I jumped through postgraduate exam hurdles and was focused on an end goal. But as time went on things changed. I took time out to do research, I became a mother and during this time I realised that the goal I thought I wanted had changed. I wasn’t enjoying operating and I longed for outpatient clinics and face to face meetings. I wanted continuity rather than a rushed often stressful encounter on a labour ward.
I had a bad day in theatre, nothing dreadful, I just wasn’t enjoying it. Things started to shift and so I finally said it out loud to the person who knows me best, my husband. “I think I want to retrain, I think I want to be a GP”. I expected a “We all have bad days” type response but instead received, “thanks goodness you’ve said it, I knew you weren’t happy, I think you should consider it too”. This confirmation was just the push I needed.
I spent a weekend grieving the career and medical identity I was losing but by the Sunday afternoon I had sent two emails. I knew nothing of the GP landscape and or the two women I contacted. The first was a local GP, my husband had heard her speak about GP training. Her name was Dr Katherine King. She responded that afternoon. Would I like to meet her in practice, and chat it through? We met the next week. She explained that my clinical skills were transferable, I wouldn’t be the first to make this switch, and it wasn’t too late. She talked me through the applications process and signposted me to the National Recruitment Office (NRO) website.
The second email I sent was after a google search for ‘academic GP Birmingham’. I knew I wanted to continue in academic training, as well as clinically, so how could I make the academic switch? Professor Helen Stokes Lampard also responded that afternoon. She too was an obstetrics and gynaecology trainee prior to general practice and had made the switch. The following week we met and discussed academic opportunities. Again she confirmed my academic skills were transferable. I was now thinking I really could do this.
I had no idea when I met these women of their leadership status in the general practice landscape. Dr King was to become the Director for Postgraduate Education in general practice in the west Midlands. Professor Stokes Lampard, the chair of the RCGP. They knew nothing about me and must have been so busy, yet both reached out and helped support my career change.
The application process was fair and transparent. Help was at hand from the NRO when I needed it.
I am now an Academic Clinical Fellow at the University of Warwick and an ST4 trainee on the Coventry and Warwickshire programme. I have thoroughly enjoyed training. The support from clinical and educational supervisors has been brilliant. Training programme directors have been amazingly supportive. I will complete my training in 2020 and become a clinical lecturer (the position I held prior to retraining). Five years later I now have the career I want. I am excited about the future.
Maybe this has struck a chord, maybe you feel the same? Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and make the switch. Get in touch.