For many years now, becoming a GP has been my top choice out of all the medical professions available. One of my favourite work experience placements prior to starting medical school was spending two weeks in a tiny GP surgery, also not far from Wakefield. This is when I first developed a passion for general practice and nothing has altered that conviction since. Even though both surgeries were different, experience in both reaffirmed the same positive points regarding working as a GP.
General practice appears to me as a career that juxtaposes routine and variety; on paper your day-to-day routine looks repetitive, however, you can never be sure of what problems come through your door next. I find this type of work challenging and stimulating.
General practice offers a great opportunity to work both independently and as a team
As a GP, you have the privilege of getting to know patients and several generations of families; I can see why this would appeal to those who are inquisitive, want to see a bigger picture and are keen get to know patients on a personal level. You also get to visit patients in a totally different environment to that of a hospital doctor - in their own home.
There is also always a chance to pick one or multiple special interests as a GP. Even if you decide not to complete a diploma in a subject you are passionate about, colleagues are likely to have the tendency to refer patients to see you if they have an interesting and complex problems of that particular system, which I have personally seen first-hand. It also works the other way - you can consult a colleague with a special interest if unsure about how to progress a particular patient’s care.
On the subject of colleagues, I think that general practice offers a great opportunity to work both independently and as a team. I have seen a GP surgery act as a very tight knit community, with lots of trust and support from other members of the team.
From discussing with GPs, I have learnt just how flexible a career of this could be - there is much scope to work part time and also undertake lots of other non-medical roles. For example, my last GP tutor worked part time at the surgery and was also training to be a priest!
Recently, opportunities have presented in a GPs career to become involved in the financial decisions regarding the practice itself - if that is of interest and matches skills sets which an individual has.
I am interested in health initiatives and public health improvement - prevention is better than the cure, and what a better career to preach this than general practice.
Overall, working as a GP appears a varied and very social career, allowing the development of a both professional and personal way of life.
Rachael is a third year medical student at Leeds University.
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