Viewpoint: Why I'm Choosing General Practice: Roma Singhal

Almost every day a consultant or a nurse asks: 'Which area of medicine do you want to specialise in?' And each time I give them my well-rehearsed spiel: 'I am really enjoying (insert their specialty).' This is not a dishonest answer but nor is it the entire truth.

Roma Singhal: 'My goal is to become a jack of all medical trades and possibly a master of one.'
Roma Singhal: 'My goal is to become a jack of all medical trades and possibly a master of one.'

The truth is... I want to become a GP.

'Why?' A GP is a jack of all trades but a master of none! You should specialise in something', the midwife on the birthing unit says to me. Therein lies the biggest misconception about becoming a GP. Yes, it is called being a general practitioner for a reason. GP's often deal with vague presenting complaints and are constantly changing from being a cardiologist to a psychiatrist to a dermatologist etc. However, as a GP you can still have a 'specialist interest' (GPwSI). This means you have the specialist knowledge and skills to provide services within the community that would otherwise need referral to a hospital. Thus, in reality many GP's are in fact 'a jack of all trades and a master of one'.

You rely on your communication skills more than in other specialties

Arguably, the greatest advantage of being a GP is that you get to work in the community. As a GP, you get to really know individuals and their families. This can make some situations more challenging for example, if a woman does not want to disclose important information to her family, but also makes for more interesting practice. As a GP, you rely on your communication skills more than in other specialties in order to play your part as a detective whilst also forming a trusting doctor-patient relationship.

Unlike in other specialties, you see the same individuals several times throughout their lives and although most of the patients are elderly, they can range from toddlers to teenagers to adults. GPs are the first port of call for most medical problems and thus are in a powerful position with the decisions they make. As anybody can come through the doors with any weird and wonderful problem, GP's are constantly kept on their toes making this a dynamic and exciting specialty.    

Moreover, GP's tend to work in small practices where you are able to form a close knit GP practice family of doctors, nurses and management staff unlike in a hospital where there are hundreds of healthcare professionals at any one time. The GP lifestyle is notorious amongst doctors. GP's work as hard as any other specialty with the added bonus of no night shifts. Nonetheless, this may soon change with a decision regarding increased hours for GP practices looming. Further, our ageing population means that community-based care is becoming more necessary of which GPs play an integral part.

In essence, my goal is to become a 'jack of all medical trades and possibly a master of one', otherwise known as a GP.

  • Roma is a student at Nottingham University

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