Written by Dr Jaspreet Saini for GPRA GP Registrar magazine
General practice is not a career I had aspired towards. Living away from home whilst a university student, I was quite dismayed by the quality of general practitioners I had seen at the times that I had found myself to be unwell. General practice certainly did not carry the allure of the specialties, and I had frequently come across the cringe-worthy term, ‘just a GP’.
Reflecting back on my first year as a private practice professional, I am quite surprised at the way my attitude has changed by my association with some absolutely incredible role models at Kable Street General Practice and Kellyville Family Medical Practice.
Here are my top tips for GP registrars starting in the training program:
- Not all conversations in general practice need to happen on the same day. Build doctor-patient relationships by following up and asking patients to come back.
- Treat receptionists well – if they like you as a person, they won’t hesitate to book more patients into your list.
- Get on side with your RTP staff – get to know their names and help them to learn yours.
- Never expect to be able to predict how your next consultation will pan out. Even if you think you know the patient well, you will never cease to be surprised by what they might come in to talk to you about.
- Balance is key – balance family time with work time. Being able to do so is one of the greatest benefits of general practice.
- Get involved with outside interests – join a GPRA working group or participate in education and research. Doing so helps to keep clinical practice relevant. Don’t forget to maintain a hobby and have a life (and friends) outside of the dreaded “medicine bubble”/
- Find yourself good mentors – they will help you realise the diverse roles of a GP. My supervisors are life coaches, diagnosticians, surgeons, educators, friends and all-around good people.
- Study is never an excuse not to exercise. The John Murtagh Library contains the Audio Digest Lecture Series. Get a good pair of headphones and listen to some of these while you’re at the gym or taking a walk around the block.
- Sitting jobs make for a sedentary lifestyle. Keep healthy by varying your work routine. You are allowed to stand up and move around while consulting. Say yes to procedures to get yourself out of your chair.
- Define your value. As a GP you are a professional. Your time is a very valuable asset. Evaluate and recognise your worth when charging patients in a private billing practice.
- Treat kids well and make sure they leave the room happy. You may find that the rest of the family puts their trust in you as a doctor or that other parents will bring their children in to see you. This is a great way to build up your patient base.
- Appreciate the business side of general practice. Get to know your practice manager well and offer useful suggestions that you think will add value to the practice.
- Do as many courses as possible – RACGPoffers a host of fantastic courses that run throughout the year.
- Get involved and have fun. You are in one of the most exciting professions there is. Christmas time? Help reception staff to put up some decorations to make the practice livelier during the festive season.
- Get to know the other registrars and start studying early. Get yourself a study group or study partner to make this process easier.
Being able to practise as a GP is an incredible gift. You will learn to cherish the profession and every day will bring something new that will help you to grow as a person and as a professional.
Congratulations on choosing such a rewarding profession. I wish you all the very best.