Before I started my training I knew that I wanted to have a portfolio career. There are a number of other things beside clinical medicine that I am interested and passionate about. Furthermore, being able to develop other skills and interests will no doubt make me a better doctor.
However, there are still some trainees who may still be undecided about how to proceed as their training comes to an end. Below I have listed a number of possible career options as food for thought.
One of the reasons I chose general practice was for career autonomy. I liked the idea of being able to manage and organise my own working schedule instead of someone else doing this.
I enjoy having variety in my week and a portfolio career will enable me to do this. Clinical sessions, (for me in the form of a salaried job), combined with time for teaching others and developing other projects is something that makes me feel excited about the future.
I am also looking forward to working in a team that I can get to know, instead of constantly rotating round various places like I did as a junior doctor. This, in addition to getting to know my patients in depth, will help me to provide the best care I can for them.
If you are interested in becoming a portfolio GP, there may be initiatives in your local area that can help you do this. For example a scheme in my area encourages GPs to work in salaried posts but with additional sessions in secondary care, community services and in teaching as a clinical fellow. The scheme allows newly-qualified GPs to understand more about services and enhance their specialist skills with the support of a mentor.
Salaried, partner or locum?
Like anything there are positives and negatives to being a salaried GP. In comparison to working as a locum the pay may not be as lucrative and some may feel the salary does not reflect the workload and pressures GPs face day to day.
However, as a salaried GP you get to be part of a practice team, but without the responsibility and pressures of being a partner. You will be paid a regular wage (with rights as an employee), work a set number of sessions and can develop long-term working relationships. You can also take part in significant event audits and quality improvement projects easily, which will help with appraisal and revalidation.
The downside to this is that there is less control in practice affairs than you would have as a partner. If partnership is something you are considering then being a salaried GP can be a good entry point or closer step to this.
However, some GPs like the flexibility and income that comes from working as a locum. If you do decide to work as a locum you will need to get to grips with the financial implications of being self-employed.
Another option is combining both salaried and locum work, which is what many GPs do.
GP with a special interest
One of the other options would be to become a GP with a special interest, or a GP with an extended role as the RCGP now calls this. This allows you to enhance your skills in a particular clinical area and can mean that you are able to provide, and in some cases improve, specialist services in your local area.
So, there are many options to choose from but the main thing to work out is ultimately what will suit your personality, learning needs and enable you to have a good work life balance. Another thing to bear in mind is that the options can be combined and like anything you can change what it is you do.
- Dr Patrice Baptiste is a London-based portfolio GP. She has also founded a medical careers company called DreamSmartTutors.