Why general practice

Embark on a flexible, diverse and fulfilling career. One of the greatest things about general practice is how varied it is.

Roles

Most GPs you meet will have roles alongside working in the practice. This can include:

  • teaching
  • research
  • writing
  • involvement in medical politics

GPs work in a variety of different settings outside of a normal practice or health centre, this can include:

  • prison
  • hospice
  • the military

“You can stand face-to-face with a prisoner and talk to them and have a connection with them without being confined by the prejudice of the crime they’ve committed. For me, there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t come away having learning something new.

I combine this work as a Civilian Medical Practitioner for the Ministry of Defence, which is highly rewarding and allows me to spend more time with patients and take up numerous training opportunities.”

Dr Jakes Hard | GP at HMP Eastwood Park & HMP Leyhill 

Special interest

You may want to become GP with a Special Interest (GPwSI). These GPs supplement their role as an expert medical generalist by providing an additional service while still working in the community, this can include:

  • cardiology
  • dermatology
  • minor surgery
  • mental health
  • sexual health

Portfolio

GPs can have portfolio careers heading multidisciplinary teams, leading work in:

  • geriatrics
  • neurology
  • in-reach
  • hospitals
  • outreach to patients’ homes.

GPs will continue to be closer, and more important, to their patients than ever before.

GPs can move between many different roles and locations throughout their careers, and can build flexible working patterns around the needs of their patients as well as their personal lives.

 

Many GPs also work in settings outside of a typical surgery:

“Working in one of the most remote areas of the UK, you have to be available for all emergencies, be it in patients’ homes or the community hospital, take on palliative care or fracture management and be able to think outside the box with patients who are sometimes unable or unwilling to go to the mainland.”

Dr David Hogg | GP on the Isle of Arran, West Scotland

Primary care

GPs diagnose a wide range of complex conditions, both quickly and compassionately as an expert medical generalist.

General practice is a unique discipline. Your medical training will provide you with the ability to apply evidence appropriately in community settings. This places general practice at the centre of the NHS the primary point of contact for most of the population. This knowledge and skill set - when combined with holistic relationship based philosophy and broad generalist practice,distinguish GPs in large measure from other medical specialists.

To adapt to new ways of providing patient care, GPs will continue to develop their skills and their roles after completing their training. You may do extra training to become a GP with a special interest, and build expertise in areas most relevant for their given community. This could cover conditions such as:
  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • drug misuse
  • child protection
  • leadership
  • management

Teamwork and collaboration

You will work with multi disciplinary teams, in a range of practice and community settings, delivering continuing and comprehensive patient centred care.

GPs don’t face the challenges of modern healthcare alone, they are increasingly working with and leading multi-disciplinary teams.

 

“I am the clinical lead for a community ‘outreach’ service to prevent fractures. We identify patients when they present fragility fractures and fast-track them for tests. In communication with the hospital we now provide treatment for osteoporosis in the community including in patients’ homes. This includes providing intravenous therapy treatment in the community as an alternative to poorly tolerated medication taken orally.”

Dr Ann-Marie Stewart | Community Fracture Liaison Service, Nottinghamshire

Innovation and leadership

GPs are integral in deciding how health and social services should be organised to deliver safe, effective and accessible care to patients in their communities.

GPs are already pioneering new ways of working. These roles present new medical challenges that require additional clinical skills and innovative ways of providing patient care.

To meet the challenges of modern healthcare and long-term conditions and multi-morbidities increase, care is moving into the community. As a result, GPs are taking on new exciting roles both clinically and as leaders designing and managing services for patients.

For example, you might take on an academic role to provide the evidence future general practice will need to provide right patient care. Or as a GP Partner, you can strategically develop the delivery of local healthcare for the benefit of your community.

 

“I combine seeing patients in practice with my research and teaching at the University of Oxford. There are so many questions in general practice that need to be answered through clinical research led by GPs. During my PhD, I looked at diagnosis of heart failure in primary care by interviewing patients about their experiences.

I am now part of a research team looking at different ways to identify people with heart failure in the community. Our research has led to changes in guidelines, so what we do really does make a difference. I’ve been able to travel to conferences to talk about my research findings and learn from others in the field. It’s a fabulous career and I love what I do and feel very fortunate to be in this profession.”

Dr Clare Taylor | Academic GP, University of Oxford

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