Hi, I’m Rony. Welcome to this blog on the life of a first year GP trainee. You may be wondering why I’m telling you about this now – you haven’t even started medical school yet! Well, you’ll be surprised how quickly those medical school years fly by and before you know it, you’re now a junior doctor!
The world will be your oyster but you’ll need to make a decision soon because trust me, your junior doctor years will go even faster! Choosing to specialise in either medicine, surgery or general practice may be your most difficult decision yet. This will be the career path you choose to follow, for what may be, the rest of your life and that’s a pretty big deal, right? Well, don’t worry, in this blog I’ll be filling you in on some insider information about the benefits of taking the general practice route. I’ll also describe some disadvantages which will give you some food for thought, no doubt. I hope to achieve this by walking you through just one amazing day in my life, so you can experience a snapshot of what it’s like to be in my shoes.
I wake up at 9am (not bad eh?). Thoughts are still running through my head about the free study day I attended yesterday on common liver conditions. I had applied for a study leave the month medical-doctor-daily-routine before and it was approved almost immediately.
Benefit No. 1 – you will get a lot of support with your GP training: there are many free educational events for GPs which are run by private companies and you will get a large amount of study budget and study leave. I am on my accident and emergency rotation. I am working a 12pm till 9pm shift today.
Disadvantage No. 1 – Hmm, yes it’s that I have to work an average of 42 hours a week in my current rotation and sometimes this can stretch up to 61 hours if I have a long stretch including nights).
‘Dear Diary…’ – The Art of Reflections
I have some free time before I start my day – how many doctors can say that? I open my GP e-portfolio and begin a learning log on my reflections of the study day I attended. Yes, that’s right, we GPs love reflections and guess what, here comes the next benefit.
Benefit No. 2 – it’s easy. Do you know why? Yes, because you need to learn how to reflect right now and you’ll continue to practice this throughout your time at medical school! It’s one of the most important techniques we teach in our medical school interview courses. So, by the time you get to my stage, you’ll be an expert. I’ve just finished my end of year review and to pass I needed to have created around 70 reflective logs. This means I have to type up two learning logs a week to meet the quota.
Disadvantage No. 2 – It does take discipline and creativity to create two of these 500-600 word mini-essays each week. It takes me about an hour to complete my learning log but I finish just time to make myself a satisfying brunch before work.
Need for Speed – A Rapid Training Programme
Its 1.45 pm and as I walk towards the hospital I realise my second hospital rotation has almost come to an end. You are required to take part in 6-month rotations in most GP training programmes. Generally, one and a half years are spent working in hospitals and the rest of your training is spent in general practice.
Benefit No. 3 – This is quite clear really. In just two more years, I will be a general practitioner. This is a game changer for me. I can finish my training off relatively early, whereas my colleagues will spend a minimum of three additional years training at least before they become the most senior doctor in their field. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and this leads to the next benefit.
Benefit No. 4 – Once I become a GP I can choose to take multiple different routes if I so desire. I can work with theMSAG, take a couple of sessions as a locum general practitioner in a surgery of my choice and work in the accident and emergency department to keep my hospital skills up to date. No other vocation offers you so much flexibility. This is one of the biggest attractions of working as a general practitioner in my opinion.
The Working Day
Before I get to enjoy all of this, I have to complete my hospital rotations. You will rank the specialities in which you would prefer to work in during the GP application process but your allocations will depend on your performance in GP entrance exams.
Disadvantage No. 3 – This element of uncertainty can be perceived as a disadvantage because you may end up with rotations which you do not favour. However, to become a proficient general practitioner, you will need some hospital experience before they take the reins off you in general practice.
I begin my shift reviewing patients and before I know it, it’s 2pm. As it’s a Thursday, I am required to attend GP teaching from 2pm till 5pm. Yes, training is included within my working hours. Today the topic at GP teaching is dementia. Guess what I’m going to be reflecting on before work tomorrow?
Benefit No. 5 – As a GP trainee, you are allocated 3 hours of teaching a week. Now, that’s got to benefit number 5 right there. I return to work at 5pm and finish my shift by 9pm. When I arrive home, I am tired and hungry but in the accident and emergency department, you always learn something new every day.
Disadvantage No. 4 – For most, the first year of GP training will feel very much like your junior doctor posts and this can be frustrating You may want to have more exposure to patients from a general practice setting and be treated like an experienced doctor, but you must wait for one additional year before you actually get the opportunity to experience these things.
As I close my eyes, I feel excited because I have almost completed my first year as a GP trainee and quickly drift into a pleasant dream about seeing patients in my own surgery one fine day...
Some More Food for Thought
So, there you have it – have I managed to stir up some interest or maybe some intrigue in your minds? Well, it’s never too early to start investigating these specialities in more detail. I would encourage you to talk to medical professionals at every opportunity and ask the important questions such as: “What motivates you to keep training?” or “Why did you choose this specialty?” If this does intrigue you, why not set up some work experience? If you’d like more advice on this, feel free to email us. If you decide to come to our interview courses, you will be guaranteed to meet a broad range of healthcare professionals from medical students to consultants who will be more than happy to share their life experiences with you just as I am.
It is estimated that almost half of those who graduate from medical school end up becoming GPs, but the total number of GPs in the United Kingdom is falling quickly. Why is that? Well there have always been traditional reasons which have existed for a long time such as a relatively isolated working pattern and the perception that, as a GP, you need to ‘know everything’ with the perpetual fear of making errors leading to complaints or litigation.
Disadvantage No. 5 - The real game-changer however has been the increasing number of patients and reduced funding in the modern-day NHS which has led to a significantly greater workload for general practitioners.
All Good Stories Come to an End but Yours is Just Begining
Reflecting back (see – I’m at it again), it’s been a great year. I’ve picked up new skills in Accident and Emergency, had the time to follow my passion for theMSAG, understood the fundamentals of the GP training programme and I’m now one year closer to becoming a general practitioner. I hope you understand a little bit more about the world of general practice and as my story ends, I hope I have inspired you to begin your own wonderful chapter in this fascinating field.
I wake up, switch on my computer and smile. I have had a brilliant idea for a new MSAG blog. It’s titled: ‘A Day in the Life of a First-year GP Trainee!’
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