Skip to main content

An interview with Dr Graham Easton, author of "The Appointment"

Dr Graham Easton
On Wednesday 12 October I held an interview with our own Dr Graham Easton, Program Director of our GP training scheme and author of the recently published fictional GP surgery book "The Appointment". You can listen to the full audio of the appointment on our new Soundcloud page here

Ben Broglia: What do you find rewarding about teaching Imperial students?

Graham Easton: One of the great things is teaching people who are enthusiastic, keen, bright and passionate, which helps me refocus on why I went into medicine. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of surgery, and teaching gives me the opportunity to step back. It gives me a chance to reflect on what we do and refresh my clinical skills, such as the neurological exam which I hated as a student! The final thing for me is the thrill of inspiring students, and the challenge of explaining a topic.

BB: You recently had published a new book “The Appointment”, the story of a fictional morning surgery. What inspired you to write this?

GE: I’m passionate about general practice and wanted to show readers what it’s like at the other end of the stethoscope, and what a challenging and complex role it is. I wanted to give them a taste of what it’s like inside the mind of one GP, during that extraordinary journey through a day in the practice. So I’ve told it through eighteen 10-minute appointments, with each chapter being a new patient, from sore throats to sick children. In the process I’m trying to show some of the medical detective work we’re trained to do, and the fascinating interpersonal aspects of an appointment, communication skills, dealing with uncertainty and the bureaucracy in a health system that’s stretched to breaking point. I’ve wanted to write a book on general practice for years, and having written a couple of case-based medical books recently it’s given me the courage to have a go.

BB: What are your plans for the future as a GP, educator and author?

GE: As a GP, I want to get through the current storm that is the modern NHS – my feeling is there are peaks and troughs and this is definitely a trough. I’m doing that by using a portfolio approach, continuing as a GP appraiser and developing the undergraduate and teaching side of my career, and helping develop a new (SCM) Specialty Choice Module called “Medicine in the Media”. Getting back to grassroots community teaching, which is easy to lose sight of the more involved in leadership one gets. As an author I’ve really enjoyed the process of writing, and the journey from proposal to publicity. It’s been well received and I’m delighted it’s been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club. I’d love to do another one and I’m talking to publishers and my agent about a focus for the next book. It’s likely to be on a medical theme, but we’re not exactly sure on what yet. It’s exciting!

BB: As one of the Programme Directors for the Imperial GP Training Scheme, what challenges do you envisage the programme facing in the future?

GE: I think the challenges are positive ones, about making the most of the exceptional potential the scheme has, still only 4 years old! It’s based in a department of academic primary care which is unusual, which offers incredible possibilities such as innovative training posts at the King’s Fund, research projects and posts at the BJGP. I think the challenge is to build on that and really make the most of the opportunities we have here, which most other schemes simply don’t have. We need more GPs, so it’s likely that schemes such as ours will expand, but as you expand you want to maintain the incredible training and quality we have, so it’s going to be about growing without diluting the offer.

BB: If you were made Health Secretary, what one change would you make to the way the NHS is run, if any?

GE: Apart from recognising the pivotal role of expert generalism in the NHS, and making sure primary care is properly staffed and funded, though I’m probably not allowed to have that! One of the key things would be to slash the administrative burden on GPs so we can actually do what we’re trained to do and look after patients. I know that administration and bureaucracy goes with any job, but it seems to me the pendulum has swung too far in that direction, so I’d like things such as more support/admin staff, streamlining the Kafkaesque NHS referrals system, improving access to secondary care and advice, things like that, which would help us to do more of the patient facing care. More working together too – a lot of the stress of general practice is because we work in isolation most of the time, and some of the protected time and space we had to talk through things and support each other has dissolved. We need to recoup some of that “team feel”, so you don’t feel as alone.

"The Appointment" is available from Amazon UK and all good bookshops

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Introducing the WATCCH Project - Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare

The Undergraduate Primary Care Education team in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London has kicked off an exciting new work experience programme called WATCCH – Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare.
There is a shortage of work experience in the health sector for pupils, particularly for those who have no connection to healthcare professionals. WATCCH aims to open up work experience opportunities in the healthcare sector by offering placements for sixth form pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to shadow various allied healthcare professionals in general practices. These 16/17 year olds have completed their GCSEs with good grades, do not have placements elsewhere, and are the first in their family applying to university. 
Pupils will attend a pre-placement induction at Imperial College's Charing Cross Hospital Campus, and will then have a 3-day work experience session at a general practice where they will observe a variety of allie…

What makes a good placement?

In the New Year, Dr Kevin Patel a GP ST3 on the Imperial VTS, takes a reflective look at the factors that go into making a good clinical attachment for trainees.
As GP trainees we are ‘encouraged’ to reflect; challenging encounters with patients, conversations with colleagues that could have gone better, moments when you felt like you were born to do this job. All of this is good fodder for your ePortfolio.
Not one to miss out on a reflective opportunity, I took a step back from a discussion that was taking place about difficult rotations, a conversation I imagine that is oft-repeated amongst GPs and hospital doctors up and down the country, and thought about how we could use our experience as GP trainees to feed into this.
As trainees we rotate into diverse placements, from paediatrics to public health to care of the elderly. I counted at least 15 distinct departments I have worked in since finishing medical school just over 5 years ago. This is more than any other specialty trainee…

Say hello, wave goodbye...

Our GP Derm and Paeds Course Lead Dr Emma Metters sadly left us this month to take a new post at St George's. She reflects on her time at Imperial below:
My time as GP Derm and Paeds Course Lead has come to an end but the good news is the wonderful Senita Mountjoy is returning from her maternity leave to take up the post again.  She brings so much energy and enthusiasm for the courses that she was instrumental in the design of initial delivery of.  I am sure she has many ideas of where she wants to take them so watch this space for new and exciting teaching developments on the horizon.
This is not really goodbye as I will be continuing my involvement in Imperial in various ways so may well cross paths with some of you again.  I have really enjoyed my time at Imperial, in several different roles, and have gained a wealth of experience which I will be taking with me to my new role as Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care at St George’s University. 
I hope many of you continue your invo…