GP working in mainstream GP and a Vulnerable adult service.
WHAT WiseGP WORK DO YOU DO?
I am a salaried GP working in a small city practice in Norwich, I work 6 clinical sessions and an additional 2 sessions in education at the practice. I also work at a vulnerable adult service 1-2 sessions a week. The vulnerable adult service provides primary care for individuals who struggle to access mainstream GP, often those who have just left prison or are currently homeless.
Prior to qualifying as a GP, I completed academic GP training and an academic foundation program. This was, in some ways a surprise to me, as I was not particularly concerned with academia or research during medical school. However, it has provided me with numerous opportunities throughout training and since qualifying, including the opportunity to be more involved in medical education and enrol in a part time master’s in clinical education. My interests in medical education include Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), their development and role in education. I am also involved in health humanities, teaching on a module around narrative medicine in marginalised groups and medicine and the arts. Finally, I teach small groups of medical student’s consultation skills and have recently become a GP tutor in primary care for second year medical students.
HOW HAVE YOU DEVELOPED YOUR KNOWLEDGE WORK SKILLS FOR THESE ROLES?
During my academic foundation training I was given the opportunity to train locally as a PBL and consultation skills tutor, lead a small research project and be part of a team developing a MOOC. All these individual roles provided me with some basic skills and connections in the University to build on over the years. Transitioning from GP training into an academic clinical fellow was another good opportunity to develop skills. I was able to start a master’s in clinical education, which was part time and provided an academic foundation in medical education, pedagogy and research methods which have been invaluable to my personal development. I would like to add that the time and access to funds provided by academic training has made most of these additional interests possible. Moreover, the opportunities to attend and present at conferences, has also opened my eyes to the wider world of medical education, health humanities, inclusion health and primary care research. Finally, meeting supervisors and role models in the areas described has really helped stretch and mould myself into the GP I want to be.
WHY DOES BEING A WiseGP MATTER TO YOU?
I believe strongly in being a wise GP, the training, portfolio and exams prepared me very well for this role. I have found that as I progressed from medical student to GP, and have further interests in education and the vulnerable adult service, that some of the medical model I am familiar with is limited and a health humanities approach helped me address this. Understanding some of the art of medicine and learning from narrative medicine has helped me manage the complexity and uncertainty of primary care in a way science cannot. Therefore, the combined interests of education/ academia and clinical work complement each other perfectly. This is something I am keen to promote to the next generation of doctors and for me medical education is an often-undervalued forum for making a big difference.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS TO EXTEND THEIR WiseGP SKILLS AND ROLES?
I have three tips that have helped me so far in my early career, they are not exactly original but that may be for a good reason, they are important!
Say yes, at least in the early stages of your career. I stated above that I didn’t have a huge interest in academia and in many ways was lucky to have the opportunities of academic training that I did (I didn’t apply initially and was fortunate to have applied when gaps in the applications were not filled). I said yes to lots of teaching and research opportunities in academic foundation training which was often overwhelming but did open doors further down the line. As time progresses and I have honed my interests and skills, I am now trying to say no more.
Find a good mentor, someone who interests you and who you aspire to be like. For me, this was not about academic output or stature but about similar passions and having likeminded ideas around education and patient care.
Be part of a team. One of the biggest things I learnt early on was that academia and research can be incredibly overwhelming if you try and tackle things in isolation. Many of the more successful projects I have been lucky to be part of, have been exactly that, something I am a small part of. Learning from others who have more expertise in certain areas is important and makes working on more lengthy research much more achievable and rewarding.