As a seven-year-old, my reply to this question was always, very confidently, ‘an estate agent’, although now I am very glad that I did not pursue this.
Currently, as a fifth year medical student this question has evolved into: ‘What would you like to do when you qualify?’ To which I often timidly reply: ‘I think I want to be a GP’.
Whenever those words escape my mouth, I often wait for looks of sympathy, confusion or worry from the colleagues or hospital doctors that asked, leading me to question my decision. Luckily, my desire to be a GP outweighs this doubt.
You never know what the next patient coming through the door is going to have or need
Primary care is vital to every community. As a GP, you are the first port of call for the common cold, the elderly woman needing a chat, the fit note, and the seemingly asymptomatic individual with an underlying malignancy.
It is this variety within general practice that I particularly enjoy. You never know what the next patient coming through the door is going to have or need. It is also important to mention that in being the first point of care for these individuals, GPs are essential in providing health education and therefore primary prevention of many diseases.
General practice is unique in that it enables doctors to build and maintain a possibly life-long relationship with patients. Yes, you may only see a patient for a 10-minute consultation a couple of times a year (if that, in some cases), but the continuity provides a level of trust that may be more difficult to gain otherwise.
Many opportunities are available through general practice. One of which is becoming a GP with a special interest - this is something I could see myself doing. Of course there are areas of medicine that I enjoy more than others and it is nice to know that I can develop my own personal interests whilst remaining a generalist.
In my third year of medical school, I had the opportunity to go into a category A prison in Manchester, and observe general practice in this environment. I really enjoyed doing this and it made me realise that GPs can work in a variety of settings - whether that is in a prison, a quiet village, outside of the UK or perhaps in the armed forces.
Earlier this year, the RCGP announced that at least 10,000 GPs will be needed by 2020. This is a staggering amount of new GPs; but through medical schools exposing students to general practice at an early stage, students will realise the many benefits and opportunities available in general practice like I have.
So next time I am asked: ‘What would you like to do when you qualify?’ I will confidently answer ‘a GP!’
Ayo is a fifth year medical student at Manchester University
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