The variety, excitment and fulfilment of being a GP
Health & Social Care "I can’t think of many careers that are more diverse, exciting and fulfilling than that of a UK general practitioner." Says Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
"While I may be biased, as a practising GP myself for over 15 years and Chair of the Royal College of GPs, here’s why I want to champion a career as a general practitioner...
"No other medical specialty can offer the remarkable variety of general practice – as you sit in your consultation room, you never know which challenges you will be presented with next. It could be as simple as a sore throat or minor injury, but more often than not it is much more complex as our profession is increasingly treating patients with multiple, long-term conditions, many of whom would have been referred immediately to hospital, just 20 years ago.
"You never know which challenges you will be presented with next."
"As a GP you will be an expert medical generalist, a consultant in general practice treating the patient’s condition but also factoring in their psychological and social situation to shape your plan to help them. Our skills have never been more in demand As we and our teams make the vast majority of patient contacts in the health service, and do it amazingly efficiently – without our service, the NHS would undoubtedly crumble as hospitals would be completely overwhelmed.
"A career in general practice also offers amazing flexibility and the ability to build a ‘portfolio’ career. Take my own career as an example; I’ve been able to combine being a GP partner, with a clinical and a research interest in women’s health through my academic role at Birmingham University where I am a professor, and my love of data, working to achieve policy change and medical leadership through my work at the Royal College, firstly as Honorary Treasurer and now as Chair.
"You have to factor in psychological and social situations to shape your plan to help."
"Amidst all of these possibilities and emerging opportunities, though, is the ingrained continuity of care that makes our profession unique and so rewarding. Not only is general practice the cornerstone of the NHS, GP practices are part of the fabric of local communities, and the relationship that family doctors build with their patients over time remains a key reason why it is one of the most satisfying jobs there is and why GPs are the most trusted doctors by their patients.
"Being a GP is certainly challenging, and there is no doubt that things are currently tough, but it’s also an exciting time to enter general practice as we explore new ways of working to adapt to the changing needs of our patients. We received a lifeline last year from NHS England in the form of the GP Forward View, which includes pledges, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020, to ensure a bright and sustainable future for our profession.
"GP practices are part of the fabric of local communities."
"So there you have it: variety, challenge, excitement and flexibility, along with the opportunity to build relationships with patients that you simply can’t elsewhere in medicine. I love being a GP – when our profession is funded properly, and we have the resources we need, it can be the best job in the world."
Find out more about a career in general practice here.