Dr Maureen Baker: Promoting the positives of a career in general practice

Last week we heard the great news that 152 more vacancies for GP training places in England have been filled after round one recruitment than last year.

This encouraging development is testament to the hard work of GPs across the country who have been promoting the positives of a career in general practice – after all, inspiring bright, young medical graduates to choose general practice is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of our profession, and safe patient care in the UK.

It’s also a real success for the 10-point plan to build the GP workforce, that we launched last year with NHS England, Health Education England and the BMA.

There is still a long way to go until we have the thousands more GPs necessary, and the college is doing what we can to make as many newly-qualified doctors choose general practice as possible as the current application round for GP trainees closes.

Letter to foundation doctors

I’ve written to all foundation doctors, urging them to consider a career in general practice, and earlier this week, Yorkshire GP and college council member Dr Dom Patterson, associates in training chair Dr Laura Armitage, her deputy chair Dr Duncan Shrewsbury (also one of the stars of Health Education England’s #nothinggeneral campaign) and I took to Twitter to discuss our experiences of being a GP and answer any questions future GPs might have.

It was excellent that so many GPs took part to voice what general practice means to them. Discussion covered a wide variety of inspirations for choosing general practice, and the even wider variety of work that we do now we are GPs.

There was also the opportunity to answer queries around GP training, support channels for GPs, and prospects for research.

For me, general practice has always meant diversity and flexibility; it allowed me to be a mother, a doctor, a teacher, a programme director, a researcher, and honorary secretary at the college – all at the same time.

It has also given me the autonomy that being a hospital doctor wouldn’t, and has meant that I have never been constrained to one area of medicine – what’s more, I get to deal with patients as people, not diseases, and that is priceless.

If you missed it, we used #chooseGP – and we’ve picked up a selection of the tweets using this Storify.

Choosing general practice

I’m always interested to know why people become GPs, so I’m delighted that the college is supporting GPonline’s Choosing General Practice writing competition, for its second year.

This is a fantastic opportunity for medical students to express why they want to pursue a career in general practice – and spread the message about how challenging, rewarding, unpredictable, flexible, exciting, and amazing being a GP can be.

I was privileged enough to read some truly inspiring entries last year, and I’m delighted that I will be returning to the judging panel this time around. The deadline is 30 May and you can find out more about how to enter (and be in with a chance of winning £100 John Lewis vouchers) here.

Induction and Refresher scheme

Of course, recruitment is just one of the three Rs in our efforts to ‘recruit, retain, return'. The Induction and Refresher scheme is much improved, but it’s a work in progress - but I am pleased that the RCGP has now launched a new phase of the I&R scheme: the portfolio route.

This enables GPs who have been trained previously worked in the UK but are currently working abroad – and have been doing so for less than five years - to prepare a portfolio of work evidence while they are away to demonstrate that they have maintained their skills and kept up to date with changes in the NHS, making it easier to return to UK general practice, and negating the need to do any assessments.

Getting skilled and experienced GPs back into the profession as quickly and seamlessly as possible after a career break, or period working abroad, has been a priority of mine since I became chair. We hope this portfolio route really makes a difference.

You can find out more about the portfolio route, and how to apply on our website and Health Education England have produced this explanatory video.

  • Dr Baker is chairwoman of the RCGP

Click here for full details of our Choosing General Practice competition

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