Zoe Bush: Why I'm choosing general practice

'I am very confident for the future of general practice, as the cavalry is coming.' I was fortunate enough to listen to Sir Denis Pereira Gray speak recently at the University of Bristol GP Society's annual conference, and this quote from his keynote address struck a chord with me.

As a potential GP, I feel that now is an exciting time to enter general practice – it is my colleagues and I who are the future; we are the cavalry.

Although this expectation comes with an amount of pressure, I relish the challenge – not just becoming a GP, but becoming an excellent one, and doing my bit to improve the quality of primary care in the UK.

When I started medical school, I wanted to be a surgeon. I thought general practice was dull. But that changed early on, with my first placement; I spent four afternoons in a small town practice, and realised that general practice encompassed all of the reasons why I’d originally chosen to study medicine.

Firstly, the variety; how wonderful not to have to choose one specialty, but to be exposed to all areas of medicine in a single day. For someone who spent five years of medical school enjoying all placements, and having difficulty understanding how we’re meant to choose just one area to focus on for the rest of our working lives, general practice is the perfect option. It’s a return to the traditional notion of a family doctor - being an expert generalist.

Continuity of care

There is continuity of care. One of the most unsatisfactory things I’ve found with hospital medicine is saying goodbye to patients and not knowing their final outcome. In general practice, you have the honour of getting to know your patients over a lifetime, and to be there through the ups as well as the downs.

I am overwhelmed by the opportunities available to general practitioners – I have spoken to GPs involved in training, commissioning, research, out-of-hours care, as well as academic and leadership fellows and GPSIs. My main concern about choosing a career in general practice is how I’ll choose from all of these options (and I think that’s a pretty good sign).

I am not however naïve; I know that being a GP is tremendously challenging and hard work. We are at a point in time where enthusiasm for this area of medicine is more important than ever, as we are faced with recruitment crises and junior doctors disheartened by contract disputes.

But all is not lost. As people such as Sir Denis remind us in a time of such negativity, there is still hope when it comes to general practice, and it is this hope which continues to drive me.

I am passionate about this specialty, and I’m proud to tell people that I want to be a GP. I hope others feel the same way, and that we can continue to inspire students to consider general practice – that cavalry will look quite small if it’s just me. 

  • Zoe Bush is a year 5 medical student at the University of Bristol

This was the winning entry in this year's GPonline/RCGP Choosing General Practice competition. Read all of the shortlisted entries here.

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