Zara Aziz: Why I chose to be a GP, not a dentist

'What do you think I should be when I grow up?' asks Twin 1 while I root around in the kitchen for something nutritious to cook for supper (that all three children will eat happily).

'Is this a trick question to check if I'm happy in my job, and therefore recommending it to all of humankind?' I ask warily.

As if I would. When I was growing up, I had a great wish to emulate my dad and become a lawyer. But my dad was always at pains to point out that in his opinion, lawyers were villainous and untrustworthy, and I should aim to follow an honest profession.

When I was fitted with some braces, I thought, why not become a dentist? But much later, when I attended for work experience at the local dental hospital, my hands shook terribly as I crookedly drilled a filling, and the esteemed professor said I just didn't have what it took (whatever that was) to be a great specialist of the oral cavity.

At that point, I decided that I would become a GP. After all, my great-grandfather had been a surgeon and needed someone to follow in his footsteps. It is a bonus that in general practice, there is little contact with the oral cavity, and even the most villainous of villains are usually nice to their GP.

'No, I have to draw a picture of what I want to be and I really want to be like Steve Backshall, except that he's really hard to draw. I've drawn some animals, though,' replied Twin 1.

I peer down at the drawings and see a lean meerkat and a toothy crocodile, both looking rather chummy and wearing shoes that look suspiciously like ballet pumps.

'Why did you want to be a GP, did you want to heal the sick?' Twin 2 asks interestedly.

'Something like that,' I reply.

'And are you glad?' asks Twin 2.

'Of course I am. It's just hard work like lots of other jobs. I'd rather be a GP than wrestle alligators like Steve Backshall - or dance on Strictly.'

'Although I could do without some of the villains in suits who keep interfering with the NHS,' I add for good measure.

'Now, come on, let's see if we can draw Steve!'

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol.

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