General practice is the tip of the arrow in terms of healthcare. With increasing power given to GPs in the delivery of health care we are seeing a shift in the way it is provided. Centrally located teaching hospitals as hubs may one day give way to GP-run ‘super clinics’: one-stop centres where patients can consult their GP and receive specialist-level care in an outpatient setting. As medical students we are beginning to appreciate this shift, and the benefits it carries. General practice allows a special relationship between doctor and person, not patient, potentially spanning decades and generations.
The most exciting moments were those when patients would walk into the room
I have always admired the relationship between my dad, the GP, and his patients. Growing up in a small rural community in western Canada, I was lucky to be able to see true general practice in action. The country doctor is one of the pillars of the community. Perhaps I have a warped view of what general practice should be. I had been led to believe that the country GP could deal with any condition or complaint, and had to.
Coming to university in London was a culture shock to say the least. Not only was I living in one of the biggest most cosmopolitan cities in the world, the scope of medicine was completely different. We have received lectures from world-class leaders in every specialty existing. On placement in the GP practice the one thing that struck me most was not the recognition of a rare syndrome, but how the GP assessed the effect that condition had on the person sitting in front of them. Recognising conditions is important, but it means so much more in the context of the person.
Many people consider general practice to be dull, with little excitement. I disagree. On my recent GP placement, the most exciting moments were those when patients would walk into the room and I wouldn’t have a clue as to why, let alone what I could offer them. The opportunity to see a variety of presentations in a variety of specialties is very exciting. Every case is a puzzle that can be solved, which really appeals to me. Furthermore, many GPs are becoming qualified as GPs with special interests, which allows one to pursue an interest in a host of specialties. I was lucky enough to be supervised by one such GP who was also one of the team doctors for a major London football club, which shows how practice may extend outside of the consulting room.
I have tried to keep an open mind about my career. I am interested in dermatology and anaesthesia, but I do appreciate the opportunity to help people with a diverse group of conditions rather than a single type. Many are noticing this trend as well, and I look forward to a bright future, building relationships in general practice.
George is a a final year medical student at King’s College London School of Medicine
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