As a newly qualified GP, looking for your first role can be daunting. Add to that the challenges around the pandemic and multitude of other changes over the last 10 years, and you’re faced with great uncertainty and challenges ahead. The good news is that with increased choice comes a variety of career opportunities.
“It’s an incredibly interesting time to get started in general practice”, says Roberto Orlandi in a GP Jobs special podcast on landing your first job as a newly qualified GP. Learn more in our key highlights from the interview below.
GP careers have evolved
The healthcare workforce has changed exponentially in the last five to 10 years, not least due to the pandemic, and these changes have brought more uncertainty, choice and need for advice and support.
Orlandi explains: “10 years ago, GP trainers would usually become GP partners in a salaried role and would be classed as a family physician where they would look after whole families. Now, there’s such a plethora of work available to newly qualified GPs with large university debts they want to clear, so they traditionally start as a locum where they can earn more.”
More career opportunities than ever before
With the backlog in patient care and a huge array of different types of roles to meet the demand, there’s also uncertainty for graduates around what career paths are available. In fact, a recent BMA poll shows one in eight GP trainees do not plan to work in general practice. So how do you know which path to choose?
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Orlandi says: “There are so many opportunities for newly qualified GPs out there that it is easier than ever to try out a multitude of roles at the same time before choosing a specific career path.”
Orlandi mentions one GP in particular who works in numerous fields at once - as a regular GP for two days of the week, occupational health for another two days, and on top of all that is also working in research for one day a week.
Is the highest salary option always the best one? What else should you be looking for in a remuneration package? “£10,000 per session for newly qualified GPs”, says Orlandi. He advises newly qualified GPs against going for the highest paying options as that usually means there is a heavy workload, challenges with the demographic and less support.
He adds that it’s important you get a fair salary, whether it be as a locum, salaried, portfolio or partner, but be wary of simply opting for the highest salary since that usually comes with tougher expectations which may not make for the best experience to kickstart your career.
What working conditions can newly qualified GPs expect? Orlandi explains this varies depending on where you work and the kind of surgery you choose to work with. He says: “I would suggest that you find a nice surgery - one that can support you and work alongside you and your career aspirations as well. You would want to stay away from the single-handed surgeries initially as a newly qualified GP, simply because you won’t have the necessary support there that you might be expecting or wanting.”
Orlandi continues to emphasise the fact that you as an applicant have a degree of control over the working conditions by asking as many questions as possible before making a decision.
“We have a saying in the office - “set yourself up for success”- and I think it’s important for GPs to ask as many questions as possible so that you know what to expect going forward.”
Build rapport with patients
Building rapport with patients is a big concern for a lot of newly qualified GPs, especially when you are replacing an established GP who already had a nice rapport with their patients.
If you’re a new GP who is nervous about establishing a strong connection and level of trust with your new patients, Orlandi has this advice for you: “All you need to do is put yourself in your patients’ shoes, make them feel listened to and always do your best for them.”
Look after your own wellbeing
Mental health is a big issue across all industries, but perhaps more so in healthcare. Sometimes patients take out their frustrations on their GPs and there can be moments where they may “shoot the messenger” so to speak. On top of all that there is the general stress and burnout that can come with the heavy workload a lot of GPs face and the nature of the demanding role. So, where can newly qualified GPs go for support? How can you manage stress and look after your own wellbeing?
Orlandi restates the importance of asking the right questions before accepting a job offer: “Knowing what to expect from your new role is far more important than we might think”, he says. He also points to the BMA, local medical committees and LMCs who are always on hand to help. In addition, the NHS website has useful information about mental health for GPs, but equally don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and colleagues.
MCG Healthcare takes the wellbeing of their candidates very seriously before placing them in a role. Orlandi explains: “A lot of what we do is making sure we really understand the people we work with and what their pain points are, what they’re not sure of and if there is any anxiety behind the role. A problem shared is a problem halved.”
Top tips when choosing your first GP job
Orlandi again emphasises the importance of asking the right questions and making sure you fully understand what you are looking for and what is right for you. It’s not all about the money, you want to find out things like:
What’s the surgery like?
What’s the demographic like?
What’s your patient list size?
How many GPs are on-site?
What sort of support does the surgery offer?
What care navigation do they have?
Do they have admin staff there for support?
What are their referral pathways?
What are their processes?
What are the dos and don’ts?
Any tips the surgery can give?
What are the main things I should be looking out for?
Orlandi adds: “Really be clear about what you’re looking for if you have certain requirements that you need. For example - ‘I’m looking for a job within 20 miles of London, for three days a week as a locum, earning this, I don’t want to be doing this, but happy to help out with XY and Z.’ If you have any questions don’t feel afraid to ask them, no matter how silly they are. A question we get asked all the time is, ‘is there any parking on site?’.”
MCG Healthcare cares about finding the right role for the right people. As Orlandi himself says: “For us it’s about making sure they find the right job and working with the surgeries and saying this is what’s important to them, can you support this? We look to partner with everyone to really understand what they’re looking for and from a surgery side of things make sure they know what’s important to the GP as well.
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This article was sponsored by MCG Healthcare.