Why did you choose general practice?
General practice appealed to me for many reasons, including the work-life balance, the flexibility of being able to practise almost anywhere and the challenge of being faced with undifferentiated presentations every day.
My leanings towards general practice were further reinforced during my hospital years, where I felt unfulfilled by providing episodic care to patients. I wanted to know more about them – who they were, where they came from, and what happened to them after leaving the hospital system. I wanted an opportunity to provide continuity of care and manage their entire health, not just the issue/s they were attending hospital for.
One of the other benefits of general practice that appeals to me is the ability to complete additional training in areas such as women’s health and skin cancer surgery, which has allowed me to tailor my patient base and keep my clinical work exciting.
Tell us about your best moments in general practice.
Before I started my general practice training, I pictured my best moments would be making clever diagnoses or solving every health problem in my patients. Now that I have been immersed in the world of general practice, I realise my best moments are much more simple than that, and often involve minimal intervention and encouraging the patient help themselves rather than me ‘curing’ them. An example of this would be when patients who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol are motivated to make lifestyle changes that are successful and avoid the need for medication.
What are some of the challenges you have faced during your GP training?
Every day in GP is a challenge, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a challenge to know that the next patient walking into my room could present with any possible complaint. It is a challenge knowing that they might not necessarily tell me what their complaint is and I have to try to figure it out. It is a challenge to know that I may be the only person they are reaching out to for help. It is a challenge to work out how I can best help them, and what I need to do to make a diagnosis and initiate the right treatment. It is a challenge to get them to understand their condition and encourage them to participate in helping themselves.
However, facing these challenges every single day with every single patient is what makes general practice a stimulating and fulfilling career, and overcoming these challenges to improve a patient’s health is what keeps me coming back for more.
What tips would you give to someone new to GP training?
- Find a GP mentor who can help guide your training and future career plans.
- Develop an area of special interest.
- Join a study group and develop networks with other registrars.
- Always ask for help and discuss any clinical dilemmas with your supervisor and colleagues.
- Keep up to date with the latest guidelines and resources.