National Association for Patient Participation

NI Think GP student elective shadowing

13 July 2017

With a shortage of family doctors in Northern Ireland, encouraging medical students to consider a career as a GP in the future is really important.

Throughout June and July, Michelle and Clare from RCGPNI visited six QUB medical students while they were on voluntary placements in general practice. We were keen to hear all about why medical students are attracted to a career in general practice and what they were learning when they were on their placement.

The placements took place right across the region – Randalstown, Newry, Derry/Londonderry, Belfast, Lisburn and Glengormley.

Each of the students we shadowed took over the RCGPNI Twitter account for the day to share their experiences, what they were learning and why they are interested in pursuing a career in general practice. Here are some of the things they told us:

"Every patient is different, which is one of the big things that attracts me to a career in GP"

"My GP elective has given me the opportunity to see a wide variety of conditions that I wouldn't see in hospital medicine"

"Why GP? I love the social aspect - meeting patients, families and providing lifelong care"

"I really like the variety"

"I wanted to find out if I could see myself as a GP and build on my consultation skills"

"I’ve learnt a lot on the logistics of running a practice, which has been really insightful"

"The GPs have really encouraged me"

"Rewarding and no two days are the same"

"I like the fact that I can be a GP while having a special interest. I am particularly interested in women’s health"

"I love the variety. I love getting to know people and being able to follow up with them"

"I hadn't considered general practice as an option until 4th year after my placement in Derry - I loved it!"

"So much variety in GP. People think it is boring but one minute you’re in a baby clinic and the next you’re helping a bereaved patient"

The comments and aspirations were very well received on social media by members, stakeholders and other students.

We would like to thank each of the host GPs and their teams for welcoming us into their practices. A huge thank to each of the students who let us disrupt their day and provided invaluable insight into their thoughts on the challenges and attractions of a career as a family doctor.

Following on from a successful launch last year, RCGPNI has again launched the student essay competition. Students are asked to write about why they are attracted to a career in general practice and provide some reflections of their experience to date. We look forward to receiving the entries and the winner, plus two runners up, will be presented with their awards in November by RCGP Chair Helen Stokes-Lampard at the RCGPNI New Members Ceremony.

If you want to see more coverage from the student placements, check out the highlights here.

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