Viewpoint: Why I'm Choosing General Practice: Clinton Lowe

During my fifth year of medical school, I have become more and more certain that I would like to be a GP.

Clinton Lowe: 'I have met with GPs with experience in multitudes of different specialties.'
Clinton Lowe: 'I have met with GPs with experience in multitudes of different specialties.'

While making FY1 applications – the realisation that I could be placed anywhere in the country made me think seriously about where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to be doing in a few years’ time. I wanted to pick a career path that allowed for more flexibility in choosing where I wanted to work – GP practises are found wherever there are people, from the biggest cities to the most remote villages.

There is pressure throughout the NHS to get patients in and out in an ever-shortening amount of time; because of this, I feel in some cases the strength of the doctor-patient relationship is slowly diminishing. Traditionally, and in my own experience, general practice has been a place where the doctor can recognise the patients’ names without first having to read the notes, and might even ask about their families.

I admire the ability of a GP to identify and process the clues of a consultation

Going that extra step is a simple measure, but is highly valued by patients and helps to provide a more holistic level of care. This is particularly important to me as it forms a large part of why I wanted to study medicine in the first place.

I want to be a generalist and improve on the overview of medicine that I have gained thus far. However, in the future I may want to expand my training to incorporate a more specific role; I am particularly interested in sports and exercise medicine. From this point of view, I feel that general practice offers the option of using a specialist capacity in a wide variety of subjects, on a day-to-day basis. I have met with GPs with experience in multitudes of different specialties including education, sports, dermatology, minor surgery or even forensics and expedition medicine.

There will, of course, be many challenges. ‘Diagnostic uncertainty’ is a phrase I’ve heard mentioned when working alongside GPs – the uncertainty of whether a patient has been optimally managed must be frustrating, particularly when some of the equipment and resources found in hospitals are not available. I admire the ability of a GP to identify and process the clues of a consultation – before pulling the pieces together in a management plan in the space of a few minutes.

The GP is on the frontline of relocation of care, as more services are moved from hospital into the community. Groups of general practices are combining? into health centres where communal use of resources takes some pressure off the local hospitals; this is particularly evident in my current community placement in Macclesfield, where six practices all share the same building. This trend looks set to continue, with further integration expected in the upcoming years. In addition, the CCGs provide opportunity for GPs to extend their leadership beyond a single practice.

  • Clinton is studying at Manchester Medical School

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