Areeb Mazhar: Why I'm Choosing General Practice

In my first year, I remember sitting through a public health lecture given by a pair of enthusiastic GPs. At the end of the session, they asked us who was considering general practice as a career option.

I feebly put my hand up and so did someone else. Only two students in a lecture theatre full of 240 students. So, why did I raise my hand?

During my time on the wards, I've realised that I am not fascinated by rare medical conditions or special surgical techniques - what really excited me was the background of the patient, the stories they had to tell me and how grateful they were that someone wanted to listen to them.

Without doubt, the medicine still interests me, but I would pick an interesting person over an interesting medical condition every time.

Often in medicine, we become so laser-focused on the medical aspect of patient care, we forget that we are treating a person. General practice emphasises a holistic approach to the patient. An approach that makes a patient feel like a person.

I want to be able to comfort the elderly man who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer two weeks ago, or reassure the anxious mother that the rash on her son's face is not serious. Being in a position to build a long-term rapport and relationship with a patient would be a privilege.

GPs are at the frontline of medicine and are the first point of contact for many patients. The truly challenging aspect of general practice, in my opinion, is that anything and everything can walk into the consultation room.

The modern GP must be able to differentiate the child presenting with a headache due to the common cold, from the similarly presenting child who may have life-threatening meningitis.

Taking a comprehensive history and carrying out an examination in a short time, without scans and investigations, and using this information to come to a diagnosis appeals to me. It is medicine in its purest form. The incredible variety of medical conditions and patient demographics is not found in any other specialty.

If those GPs asked our year the same question today, I'd hope more hands would be raised. I'd hope our journey through medical school so far has broken down some of the misconceptions and stereotypes attributed to general practice.

Not only do I want to be a GP, I want to be involved in recruiting the next generation of GPs.

I genuinely believe the future of the NHS is in general practice; I want to be part of that future.

  • Areeb is a medical student at Sheffield University and the winner of our Choosing General Practice essay-writing competition

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