As a GP, I feel like I’m doing a service, making a difference and it’s fulfilling.
For better and worse, both my parents were GPs. As is the case with most offspring, I railed against the idea initially, spending time in the hospital system in predominantly medical roles. As time went by, I realised that I wanted all of the medicine and far less of the hospital red tape. A sense of a lack of autonomy and long registrar night shifts in Acute Medical Unit certainly didn’t help and I soon found myself craving the flexibility and variety of general practice. I’ve never looked back.
I love the independence and freedom a career in GP offers. There is an immense amount of sub-specialities to get involved in, should you have the interest. There is so much opportunity. Going through WAGPET and the GP training program has shown me that the level of knowledge required is vast, and I relish the challenge.
In my current practice, I see a lot of unusual cases, and have made some important calls. Of course, these cases are scattered between the many worried patients and parents that I see who really have nothing to be worried about. I’ve had some hairy and scary moments, but I definitely don’t make life or death decisions every day, and I don’t catch myself wiping salt from my chronically sweaty forehead like I did after an ED shift. I feel like in my current workplace I’m doing a service, making a difference and it’s fulfilling – but I still get to take time for myself and actually have a social life outside of work. I’m so much happier for it.
Although I love the detective work, there are always challenges to face. Uncertainty of diagnosis and patient denial are probably the biggest ones that I have had difficulty dealing with. We all want answers now; sometimes we don’t get them, and sometimes they simply don’t exist. I have found that these things pass with time and acceptance (and clear documentation).
For anyone considering GP or anyone already in training, here are a few things I’ve learnt:
- Regardless of your training destination, identify a mentor whose values align with those of your own. I was extremely fortunate to have multiple level-headed, supportive mentors within the WAGPET program, each with their own set of special attributes. I am always trying to take the best of everyone’s practice and amalgamate them into my own skill set.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help or take some down time if you need it. Looking after yourself means you are able to look after others more effectively.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” - more mistakes are made by people who are not willing to recognise and acknowledge their own limits.
If you weren’t set on it from the get go and I’ve managed to convince you then welcome to the club, and see you out there!