I remember sitting in the audience and thinking that I would definitely belong to the other half instead. Today, as a fourth year medical student, becoming a GP is something I look forward to immensely. Over the years, through attachments at different practices, I have slowly realised that general practice is where I will be able to give my 100% as a doctor. So why do I now belong to the 50% that will become GPs?
As unfortunate and ignorant as this may sound, before starting my placements in general practice, I belonged to the same crowd of people that thought that GPs merely treat colds and coughs and prescribe antibiotics or paracetamol. My first ever GP visit in first year was a true eye opener - through these visits, I was truly able to appreciate the variety of patients seen by a GP in the span of a few hours. A hospital consultant is restricted to certain diagnoses in their chosen speciality; general practice requires one to have an extensive breadth of knowledge about ‘everything’. It is precisely this uncertainty of what’s coming next through the door that makes life as a GP seem much more exciting! Furthermore, the specialty requires one to be up-to-date on changes in treatments or protocols for all sub specialties – this is certainly very challenging but a fantastic way to satiate my hunger for constant learning throughout my career.
I find it a privilege to know an entire family unit
Another attractive aspect of general practice is the continuity of care and the longitudinal relationship built with any given patient. Being an inquisitive person, I find it very appealing to know what is going on in my patient’s life and to be in the loop of discussions from hospital appointments or admissions. The idea of not knowing what happens to a patient after they are discharged from the hospital fills me with unease and a reason why being a hospital doctor does not attract me. Moreover, I find it a privilege to know an entire family unit and be able to comprehend with the needs of not only the patient but a whole family in certain situations. This allows me to provide a more holistic approach towards the care given, treat patients on an individual basis whilst keeping an entire community well and thus live up to the title of a ‘family doctor’.
A career in general practice provides immense flexibility. Several GPs are now training in an area of a special interest – hence knows as GPSIs. In future, I want to get involved in medical education or health promotion/education in my local community – the possibilities are endless and I know that becoming a GP will not restrict me from pursuing my ambitions further.
So, a career that is not monotonous, is challenging yet extremely rewarding and satisfying whilst allowing one to maintain a balanced life surely seems like a fantastic choice!
Mansi is a fifth year medical student from Brighton Medical School.
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