Working as a GP

Your typical working day

It’s often long! You can start around 8 or 9am, sometimes earlier if you’re doing an early clinic for those who want to be seen before work.

Lunchtimes are spent going through hospital letters, sorting through blood results, typing up notes or sometimes going on home visits.

The afternoon appointments then start, and most of the time there are loose ends to tie up before you leave for the day. It can be a long day, finishing anywhere from 6 to 8pm depending on the practice. But with all the challenges comes great reward - when you look back, you might have made a difference to more than 30 people that day.

Special interest

Most GPs have a special interest. It might be something they enjoyed or trained in before becoming a GP, something have they developed an interest in since, or something they inherited when they joined a practice.

A GP with a Special Interest (GPwSI) is someone who has formalised their area of interest. This is  usually with a formal qualification. A GP with a Special Interest (GPwSI) supplements their role as an expert medical generalist by providing an additional service while still working in the community.

“We are pioneering a new approach that relies on GPs skills to reduce the pressure on hospitals. My team sees out-patients in the A&E department, using our generalist skills to quickly asses what care a patient might need. The idea was to look at what impact having a GP in an emergency care setting could make, and to make use of my knowledge and skills as a GP to advise what services might be available outside in the community.”

Dr Jane Weatherstone | Hospital Generalist, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

GPs can have a range of special interests including:

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

10 minute appointments: are they difficult?

Yes, they are! Especially given the increasing complexity of patients, rise in long-term conditions and the amount GPs are being asked to do in each appointment.

However, you can book patients to return if you need to. Having to work within the confines of a 10-minute appointment make the role of a GP intellectually and medically challenging.

Clinical isolation

“From day one as a trainee in practice you are treated as part of the team. There is always another GP to discuss things with.

Many GPs take on academic roles to enhance quality and standards and to provide greater evidence for advancements in primary healthcare services:

My role allows me to combine clinical work with a leadership role for my practice but also the two federations it is a part of. A typical week involved two clinical days, one providing GP surgeries and participating in a multidisciplinary team for our local integrated care team, and the other delivering a practice-based vasectomy service.

My leadership time is supported by my practice and allows time to consider innovation in respect of clinical services and their delivery both within and outside the practice. On a personal level, It is really enjoyable and has allowed me to develop my career in really positive ways whilst maintaining my clinical skills.”

Dr Mike Holmes | GP Partner & Federation Director, Yorkshire & Humber

Developing a portfolio career means working with different teams, in different settings. The role of the GP is developing and it may be that you find yourself running a cardiology clinic, a care of the elderly ward round in a community hospital or an A&E resus for example, on some days of the week.

Not just  coughs and colds

Patients present with a range of symptoms, some are due to simple illness and can often be managed by other team members. Others are medically complex and require a high level of skill to not only manage the condition(s) but to see the patient in the context of their lives, their family, home environment and personal beliefs.

Palliative care cases are a great example of the need for good clinical acumen and the ability to provide holistic care.

A generalist – are you a master of anything?

GPs are masters at knowing their patients and are uniquely placed to make well informed decisions.

GPs are skilled at making decisions with patients rather than for them. They are also masters of managing risk, able to take responsibility for clinical uncertainty and the larger health economy. Don’t forget that many GPs are able to practice special interests.

GPs practice evidenced based medicine. Knowing where to find and how to implement the most relevant and up to date guidance is an important skill needed to manage the huge range of conditions seen in general practice. You need to do this without using a lot of medical jargon with patient’s.


In general practice, particularly in training, it’s recognised that maintaining a healthy work and life balance is part of being an effective clinician.

Many more qualified GPs are choosing not to work a full week in the surgery, spending time in other clinical, education or leadership roles or pursuing other interests.

It is important to look after your own health when most of your time is consumed with the health of your patients, you can get advice and training to support your wellbeing when you join us.

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