Viewpoint: Why I'm Choosing General Practice: Eunice Kwok

Whilst on a palliative care placement, eight medical students, myself included, were asked by the registrar teaching us what career we would like to pursue following medical school.

Eunice Kwok: 'One of the most challenging but rewarding jobs on this planet.'
Eunice Kwok: 'One of the most challenging but rewarding jobs on this planet.'

Out of the eight of us sampled in this (oh so scientific) study, there was a wannabe anaesthetist, one brave soul who said she wanted to be a GP, a student who had signed up to join the army and wanted to work as a doctor in acute medicine through one of their lucrative medical student graduate schemes, and the classic five people who elected to sit on the fence/take the pragmatic view.

It takes a lot of guts whilst at medical school to say you want to be a GP

I was, unfortunately, one of those five abstainers, despite the fact I genuinely really want to be a GP. To those of you who are wondering why I didn’t announce my true feelings I can only say I was too afraid to speak out. It takes a lot of guts whilst at medical school to actively say you want to be a GP. One of my best friends and I have found that it’s safer to say: 'I don’t know what I want to be yet', as a common attitude is that the people who can’t pursue a different specialty get lumped with becoming a GP.

GPs have an enviable work-life balance

But why on earth wouldn’t I want to be a GP? As a GP I’ll get to know my patients and give them a decent continuity of care. Furthermore, I won’t be working predominantly in a hospital environment – something that I don’t particularly enjoy. I get to work fairly flexible hours and choose eventually whether to continue as a salaried doctor or become my own boss and join a partnership.

I’ll have a great job as a GP and a very, very steady job at that, as well as something that will help pay the mortgage eventually. Being a ‘family doctor’ also (as luck would have it) gives me the chance to have a family when the time comes because unlike many other specialties, GPs have an enviable work-life balance.

One of the most challenging but rewarding jobs on this planet 

On top of all of that I’ll have one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs on this planet – saving lives by working out the patients with serious diseases and siphoning them off from those with minor diseases.

In so doing, I will also be helping to take pressure off A&E who are in a constant battle against the surge in patient numbers. Besides, quite frankly I will have a great deal of satisfaction in my job.

To sum this all up becoming a GP would give me the chance to make the choices I want in life beyond the field of medicine as well as within it. Although medicine is a vocation it is still undoubtedly a job, so why not choose a specialty you’ll love and which can offer you a decent lifestyle? With any luck, next time we get asked what we medical students would like to specialise in I’ll have the guts to share my views out loud.

* Eunice is a fourth year medical student at Birmingham University. Email to take part.

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