Harsh reality of the GP world

When I was a trainee we were real men; we received a warm welcome at our new practices, as befits an extra (and free) pair of hands, and then, like the Spartan children, we were summarily dumped in the deep end and left to get on with it, living off the land and only eating what we could kill.

At my first 'tutorial' I was telling my 'trainer' about the morning surgery.

My trainer was one of the old school; he had arrived just in time for lunch and he'd had the morning off. Isn't that what trainees were for? Why have a dog and then bark yourself?

'One patient today thought that Septrin was actually a tonic,' I said, thinking it a rather droll and amusing tale.

Funny and patronising stories about patients and their gullibility had been a staple of hospital canteen conversations (second only in importance to who was sleeping with whom).

To me it was still a 'them and us' situation and, after only one morning in general practice I hadn't yet been fully converted to the actual truth, that is patients were now our friends, and that hospitals and hospital doctors were the real enemy.

'Isn't it?' he replied, scratching his woolly head, a look of mild distress and befuddlement on his dear old face, as if the world was moving much too fast for him these days and he couldn't keep up with all the changes.

'Well, no, actually, it isn't', I said slowly, realising then that I was truly, truly on my own in this big, bad world. That I had been pitilessly expelled from the great womb of the hospital and that nipples were now in short supply.

'And do many people know of this?' he asked plaintively.

I didn't want to hurt his feelings, as he was my trainer, I had to work with him for a year, and anyway, I was always taught to humour old folks.

'It's quite a recent advance,' I said minimally.

'Whatever will they think of next?' he said, shrugging his shoulders in dismay.

Then he visibly brightened up, as if something very reassuring had just occurred to him, an island of stability in an ever more transient world.

'Well, I must be off now, I'll see you tomorrow; I might be a wee bit late, but feel free to call me at once if you've any problems. Remember my door is always open', he said.

Some things never change, I thought.

Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Fever in adults - red flag symptoms

Fever in adults - red flag symptoms

Pyrexia in adults has a wide range of differential diagnoses. Dr Pipin Singh provides...

GMC to restart fitness to practise cases and PLAB tests within weeks

GMC to restart fitness to practise cases and PLAB tests within weeks

Fitness to practise cases paused during the coronavirus pandemic will restart this...

NHS England confirms plan to add practice managers to £20,000 golden hello scheme

NHS England confirms plan to add practice managers to £20,000 golden hello scheme

NHS England hopes to extend the £20,000 golden hello scheme for first-time partners...

COVID-19 risk assessments could devastate fragile GP workforce in parts of England

COVID-19 risk assessments could devastate fragile GP workforce in parts of England

COVID-19 risk assessments could devastate the threadbare primary care workforce in...

GP trainees still paying thousands for NHS levy Boris Johnson promised to scrap

GP trainees still paying thousands for NHS levy Boris Johnson promised to scrap

GP trainees are among overseas NHS staff continuing to face demands for thousands...

GP fear surge of avoidable illness as patients skip routine vaccinations in pandemic

GP fear surge of avoidable illness as patients skip routine vaccinations in pandemic

Patients have been urged not to skip routine vaccination amid concerns the COVID-19...