Daisy Walters: Why I'm choosing general practice

What is a general practitioner? Before I started medical school, I'd have probably said: 'a doctor who knows something about everything, but everything about nothing'. If you asked me now, in my fourth year of medical school, I'd answer somewhat differently:

A GP is a doctor, a social worker, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on.

They are there to see people at their best, and to support them through their worst. From the tiniest baby, to the centenarian. Simultaneously a caring and trusted confidant; and a well of technical skill and knowledge.

Part paediatrician, geriatrician, psychiatrist, acute medic and manager of chronic disease. A fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable role, and the core of the NHS.

From my first placement in general practice I loved it. I’ve been on placements in deprived areas, middle class towns, small practices and huge medical centres. But the thing I love about general practice stays the same: the people.

In my first placement alone I supported a man through a terminal diagnosis; I followed up with an elderly woman who was finding herself confused; I gave oxygen to an acutely poorly baby while we waited for an ambulance, and then met her fit and well the next week (with a very sweet thank you card). I got to know each and every one of the patients, and they got to know and trust me.

The doctor-patient relationship

There is nothing like the doctor patient relationship in general practice, and I’ve experienced it nowhere else.

You never know what will come through the door next. It’s a challenge, but an enjoyable one.

One moment you’re a gynaecologist, the next you’re dealing with neurology and as soon as that patient leaves you’re on to paediatrics. Not only this, but you deal with the intersection of different specialities. GPs deal with the same patient’s respiratory disease, urological complaints and endocrine ailments.

General practice is a social speciality, an intellectual challenge, and a thoroughly fulfilling career. Although it has its challenges, it combines the best parts of many different specialities, and more.

Some would say that general practice is not a 'speciality' as such. I disagree. I would argue that general practice is a speciality in people. And I absolutely love it.

So why do I want to be a general practitioner? Do you even need to ask?

  • Daisy Walters is a 4th year medical student at the University of Manchester

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