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GP Careers in the 21st Century: A Medical Student Perspective

By Sunila J Prasad

On the 9th September 2015, Imperial Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) in collaboration with Health Education North West London (HENWL) and Hammersmith & Fulham GP Federation hosted the event ‘GP Careers in the 21st Century’ at Charing Cross Campus, Imperial College London.

The event aimed to promote the breadth and variety of careers within General Practice and attendees which included medical students, GP trainees and senior colleagues, heard from a number of speakers. As a fifth year medical student who was curious about what a career in General Practice could possibly entail, I looked forward to hearing about the diversity of opportunities available in this arena of medicine, as well as learning about what the future of General Practice may hold for myself and my fellow colleagues.

The programme of listed speakers alone was an initial indicator of how rich and rewarding a career in General Practice could potentially be. Topics covered throughout the day included careers in urgent care, portfolio GP careers, clinical leadership, teaching and research and specialist interests. Amongst all the unique career paths presented, each speaker first and foremost conveyed their passion for their job.  This passion was centred on having the opportunity to build relationships with and help patients in their practice.  This element of General Practice, which many speakers described as the ‘bread and butter’ of their work is the main aspect of General Practice undergraduate students are primarily exposed to. However, as the day went on it became apparent that, beyond the walls of the consulting room, General Practice held a myriad creative and immensely rewarding avenues for career development.

A particular highlight of the day was learning about the concept of a portfolio career, a talk delivered by Dr Graham Easton. Dr Easton, who presented his typical week of work to the audience conveyed the unique property of General Practice in its potential to be specifically shaped around an individual’s interests. From working in the media to teaching, Dr Easton’s presentation of his portfolio career emphasised that despite the unpredictability a portfolio career may have, the autonomy and flexibility of this particular pathway allowed a great opportunity to maintain personal skills and interests alongside clinical practice.

As a medical student, being constantly exposed to negative media surrounding the NHS, as well as hearing disillusioned accounts from senior colleagues on placements has at times left myself and many of my colleagues worrying about where our training will take us in the future. However, as Dr James Cavanagh explained in his talk about clinical leadership, in the context of change and restructuring of health services offered to the public, the act of worrying is fruitless. Instead, the ability to draw on our leadership skills to tackle the potentially challenging factors that may affect our careers and patient service is key.

Seeing each speaker talk about their own particular pursuit with such genuine enthusiasm was inspiring and allowed me to appreciate General Practice as an area of medicine that is at the forefront of innovation in delivering healthcare to the public. Overall, the conference emphasised that the future of careers in General Practice relies on those providing care to do so in a dynamic way, utilising the multi-disciplinary nature of the profession to provide the best possible care for patients. The event offered a refreshing outlook on careers in General Practice and I look forward to finding out more about what General Practice entails in my future placements.


Azeem Majeed said…
Thank you for giving a medical student perspective on primary care careers.

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