Careers - Consider a position with the RCGP

Promote the profession and educate GPs on a wider scale, suggests Professor Ruth Chambers.

Appointments to internal committees of the RCGP and representing the RCGP to outside bodies may attract repayment of locum fees

As a GP, you will be aware that the RCGP is the foundation of quality, setting standards in GP training and everyday practice. This includes deciding the GP curriculum for registrar training, quality assurance of GP specialty training and assessment, evolving the recertification process and tools for GP revalidation.

But it does much more than that.

For example, the RCGP actively addresses health inequalities, accredits practitioners and practices through RCGP awards, works to influence politicians and the DoH across the UK, and disseminates the quality and standards of UK GP training and performance across developing countries.

Faculty board and central council
There are lots of opportunities for GPs to work with and for the RCGP. You might start by becoming involved in your local RCGP faculty.

There is no payment for attending the RCGP council as this is the trustee board; many RCGP members and fellows undertake 'work' for the RCGP that is unpaid, especially relating to faculty work.

They do it because they have a passion to support the values and aims of the RCGP, improve quality of care and generally enhance GPs' standing in the NHS. They also enjoy networking with like-minded colleagues, all motivated by 'making a difference'.

Whether you are a GP in training (an associate member of the RCGP) or an established GP you should find an opening.

Approach the chair of your local RCGP faculty and they should snap you up (see boxes below for two GPs' experiences of working with the RCGP).

Medical politics

'I would recommend a young doctor considering a career in medical politics (which is how I would loosely categorise my RCGP roles) to be clear about the time involved, the hard graft and the disappointments; but also the real opportunity to make a difference and get a buzz of job satisfaction that cannot be gained elsewhere.

'You need to develop a range of generic organisational and influencing skills alongside areas of expertise that make you indispensible.'

Paid posts
You may be able to receive locum reimbursement for attendance at meetings that further the aims of the RCGP, such as appointments to internal committees of the central college (for example, the professional development board that meets several times a year) and representing the RCGP on outside bodies as approved by the honorary secretary of the RCGP.

Senior posts on the council are elected by council members. A receipted invoice from the GP locum who covered you may be repayable by the RCGP, or possibly the outside body.

Travel expenses are reimbursed for GP representatives attending official meetings such as the RCGP council.

There are some fixed-term paid GP posts where the RCGP engages GPs in a position or a piece of work with an agreed fee and a contract for services. You may see such posts advertised in the college's publication Seven Days - such as GP curriculum fellow or author.

The college may use the BMA's GP educator payscale to benchmark the pay for the post. Or the RCGP might negotiate a payment with your university or practice for your time if you are essentially being seconded to the RCGP.

You could consider becoming an RCGP assessor for the clinical skills assessment part of the MRCGP or other RCGP awards for established GPs and practices. This could be a good area of development.

If you are thinking of taking on a role with the RCGP then go for it.

It is an amazing way to meet extraordinary people, be involved in celebrating and advancing the GP profession and stay up to date.

  • Professor Chambers is a GP in Stoke-on-Trent and honorary professor at Staffordshire University

Working on a Faculty Board: A GP's experience

'I had had real trouble getting my maternity leave accepted and paid for while in a hospital post - I had previously had some time 'off' clinical work in a research post, part-funded by a charity, and the NHS was trying to avoid counting it as continuous employment.

'After a successful negotiation with the hospital, it drew me into a trainee representative role. I joined the regional GP education committee as the trainee rep and started a newsletter for trainers. I was noticed by the RCGP district rep for my area and he asked me to consider standing for the faculty board when he stood down.

'That was 16 years ago and I have been the district rep ever since. Later, I was nominated then elected as vice-chairwoman and then chairwoman. As chairwoman I have a place on the RCGP council as faculty rep.

'It is an unpaid professional role, or perhaps more like a hobby. I am still in practice and in an academic post as well. It probably involves a day a fortnight, with the representative role, emails, support for members, responding to central RCGP consultations and liaison, as well as involvement in local projects, courses and conferences.'

Learning points

1. The work of the RCGP is varied so you should be able to find a role to suit you.

2. Approach the chair of your local RCGP faculty as a first port of call.

3. Consider a fixed-term paid post if it covers a relevant interest.

4. Becoming an RCGP assessor is a great way of developing an existing role as a trainer.

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