The question is: to GP or not to GP?

Imagine a Brazilian doctor, ready to conquer the surgical world, who unexpectedly finds herself immersed in the UK's quirky universe of General Practice. Buckle up for a humorous ride as I recount my accidental journey and shed light on the charms and challenges of being a GP.

My journey from an enthusiastic surgeon-in-training to a passionate GP began by understanding the value of a centralised GP referral system. Coming from a country where direct referral to specialists is the norm, I could not help but raise an eyebrow at the idea of GPs holding the referral keys. However, my perception changed daily as I grasped the efficiency of referring patients to specialists through a GP.

Escaping night shifts

I recall a patient back in Brazil, afflicted by a chronic cough. Who, out of frustration, had self-referred to an array of speciality teams – respiratory, gastroenterology, ENT, and even sleep experts, only to discover that the underlying issue was a mere side effect of medication prescribed by a cardiologist. In addition, the prospect of escaping night shifts and weekends had me jumping for joy to become the gatekeeper of the NHS.

Changing from a hospital to a community job gave me a short honeymoon period, broken by the rollercoaster of challenges that come with the new territory. GPs are the modern-day detectives. Piecing together medical puzzles that stump even the savviest search engines, from deciphering mysterious symptoms that Dr Google could never crack to playing referee in family disputes over who gets the remote control. The enigmas are endless, and the rewards of decoding them are beyond satisfying.

The joys of being a GP

The joy of being a GP lies in the tapestry of patient interactions. As I embarked on this unexpected journey, I discovered the unparalleled satisfaction of providing continuity of care. Building long-term relationships with patients allowed me to witness their health journey unfold, celebrate their victories, and offer support during setbacks. While the challenges are real and the days can be long, these encounters forge bonds that make GPs a cherished member of their extended family. General Practice isn't just about prescriptions; it's about being constant in their lives, an ally in their journey.

GPs are the medical wizards, the unsung heroes of the medical world. Whether you come from Brazil, Britain, or beyond and are contemplating a career in General Practice, consider this an invitation to a uniquely fulfilling expedition. From unexpected beginnings to heartfelt connections, the journey is woven with laughter and healing. The Royal College of General Practitioners extends a warm invitation to be part of this enriching voyage. For those who decided "To GP", may your day be filled with intriguing symptoms and heart-warming stories, and your teacups never run empty.

About the writers

Dr Alba smiling whilst standing outside.

Dr Alba Pereira

Dr Alba Pereira

Dr Alba Pereira, MRCGP UK, is a Brazilian-born doctor working as a General Practitioner at Imperial College in West London. She has been an RCGP NW London faculty board member and was actively involved in an international programme to increase GP retention. She is a member of the BMS (British Menopause Society) and has a special interest in post-reproductive health. She has also launched a new YouTube channel dedicated to raising awareness and addressing the stigma surrounding menopause.