Dr Ayesha Ahmad
General Practice Speciality Trainee
General Practice covers all aspects of Medicine. It is one of the specialities where all the different conditions you learnt about in medical school is applied on a daily basis. Not only do you require a broad range of medical knowledge, general practice is heavily influenced by the patient and their journey through life which contributes to the way they present to you as their GP. In some instances, a GP is the one consistent doctor a patient may know from the day they were born all the way through to their adult life and beyond and this special bond is the reason why patients rely on their GPs to advocate for their health and prevent their condition from deteriorating. General practice covers a significant proportion of patients that are cared for under the NHS, consequently GPs are exposed to a wide array of conditions.
A usual day for a GP can be anything from reviewing a new born baby, to dealing with a medical emergency, to palliating a patient in the community and keeping them comfortable at the end of their life. Without the usual investigations so widely used in a secondary care setting at their fingertips, a GP has to depend on their history taking skills and clinical knowledge to make the appropriate diagnosis and management plan. This is why a GP needs to be an effective thinker.
Currently I am in the midst of GP training, which is a 3 year training programme that involves 1.5 years in hospital and 1.5 years in GP. The purpose of the hospital placements is to advance your knowledge in how disease is managed in secondary care so that you can use this in the GP setting to know when and how you can continue managing a patient in the primary care setting and when you need to seek urgent help and admit patients.
In general practice there are many paths you can take including medical education, clinical research and medical management roles. Some GPs take special interests in certain areas of medicine which can allow them to run a specialised clinic in these areas such as minor surgery, mental health and paediatrics. Once you enter general practice you are not just confined to doing clinics in primary care but a wide range of opportunities present that you are actively encouraged to take on to broaden your scope of knowledge and work.
General Practice is a part of Medicine that I always had an attachment to throughout my years at University. The thing that strikes me about general practice the most, is the patient centred approach and the key role you can play as a healthcare professional is changing people’s lives for the better. Do not get me wrong there is a lot of paperwork involved in being a GP but there have been many times where I have been in my clinic room with a patient and they have revealed vital information about their life that they have never disclosed to anyone else as they feel safe in the GP environment. This information at times can explain why a patient is having such difficulty with their health and so can be utilised to form a management plan with the patient which they will engage in to improve their lives. Ultimately, general practice is about disease prevention and the promotion of health, to do this, you need to understand your patients and I truly believe there is no better place to carry this out than in the GP setting.