Dr Maureen Baker: Choosing General Practice reflections

The college's focus this year will be the three Rs - recruit, retain, return - to secure a GP workforce fit for patients now and in the future.

We have launched our first recruitment video to encourage medical students and foundation doctors to choose general practice. We will also be hosting a series of events with Health Education England, targeted at under-doctored areas.

The video has received great feedback from medical schools, so I'm confident we are getting the message across.

It's been a real boost to read the wonderful essays on GPonline from medical students entering the Choosing General Practice competition. Zahra Malik, at Nottingham University, hit the nail on the head when she wrote that she is choosing general practice because she wants a 'career that encompasses it all'.

Jessica Roscoe, also from Nottingham, captured the variety of the profession: 'A day in the life of a GP could include appointments with a one-week-old baby or a 101-year-old, and anyone in between.'

It is encouraging that our future doctors recognise the opportunities of our profession - flexibility, the chance to build relationships with patients, the challenge of never knowing what you will face - that 'anything and everything can walk through the consultation room', as Areeb Mazhar from Sheffield University pointed out.

This can be daunting, but it is also what makes general practice great. It's what appeals to Joshua Strange, at Manchester University, who sees general practice as 'the most challenging of all roles'.

We make decisions that can shape patients' lives, and to do this well, we need to be at the forefront of medicine. As Areeb writes: 'The GP must be able to differentiate the child presenting with a headache due to a cold, from the similarly presenting child who may have life-threatening meningitis.'

Primary care is so advanced these days, I simply don't recognise the image some have of GPs as sitting at a desk seeing cold after cold.

Areeb's conclusion was inspiring: 'I believe the future of the NHS is in general practice; I want to be part of that future.' These accounts make it clear, the future of our profession is in safe hands.

  • Dr Baker is a GP in Lincoln

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