Viewpoint: Why I'm Choosing General Practice: Baber Uppal

I'm in medical school to help people. It's as simple as that, right? Well, there are numerous methods to benefit humanity, especially on larger scales.

Baber Uppal: 'General practice is personal. Personal to patients. Personal to me.'
Baber Uppal: 'General practice is personal. Personal to patients. Personal to me.'

If this was the only reason, I’d be a fundraiser or politician. I’m actually in medical school to help people on a personal level. So why does this mean I’m interested in general practice?

The personal history constructed between patients and their family doctors quickly secured my attention on clinical visits.

In hospital wards, the basic scenario is patients coming into the hospital with an issue, undergoing diagnostic testing and then receiving treatment options to manage their condition.

Yes, specialist doctors get the satisfaction in treating the serious, acute illness. However, that isn’t the only component I believe medicine encompasses.

The family doctor doesn’t wave the patient off into the sunset after a consultation

There isn’t enough time to see that gradual improvement of the patient’s mental well-being. There isn’t enough time to build that doctor-patient relationship. There isn’t enough time to explore that patient as a person. I’m studying medicine to look after people on personal levels, but most specialties merely scratch this surface.

General practice relieves this itch. The family doctor doesn’t wave the patient off into the sunset after a consultation. Instead, they see them throughout the coming years, strengthening rapport with them.

The shared history allows for a personal, holistic approach, where the doctor can take on all the patient’s concerns since they’re not constrained by time or patient trust.

Something about constructing this relationship and further benefiting the patient with it just captivates me.

General practice is personal. Personal to patients. Personal to me

The personal nature of primary care is emphasised by its diversity. Human beings are distinct individuals. This diversity is reflected by general practice.

Anyone can walk through the door for their appointment, with unique expectations for their consultation. Are they seeking comfort for their chronic pain or advice for their first pregnancy?

With such endless possibilities, it becomes obvious why general practice is designed to look at the presentation from the patient’s perspective. It would be impossible to follow a generic script for every consultation; the flow chart would be an abomination. General practice keeps doctors soaring on their toes through exhilarating diversity but anchors them to Earth with its personal nature. Who wouldn’t want to experience this?

The settings of general practice only repeat these themes. A cosy, medical practice where all the staff know each other and patients are familiar faces; it’s like a second home. It’s personal.

Moreover, although the family doctor will spend many hours in the consultation room, this isn’t the boundary. GPs can venture out on home visits, do additional work in hospitals or educate future doctors. The variety of these backdrops only makes it more alluring.

Personal. It’s the common concept for why I love general practice. You can nurture the doctor-patient relationship with it and apply holistic approaches to helping people. It allows you to welcome the diversity of general practice with wing-span arms, and is even reflected in its atmosphere.

General practice is personal. Personal to patients. Personal to me.

  • Baber Uppal is a second year medical student at Manchester University.
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