Callum’s humble guide to life as a GP

Recently I visited King Street Surgery, Kempston, where I spent the day shadowing a General Practitioner.

King street surgery

During my time at the surgery, I talked to people who work there and discovered what working in a GP surgery involves, which I found very interesting as I learnt a lot.

One thing that I found particularly interesting is what a GP does for a job. This may sound pretty basic, possibly because we have all visited a GP at some time in our lives, but to me it completely changed my perspective of the role of GP’s in medicine. Before I spent time at the surgery, if you asked me “Callum, what does a GP do?”, I’d probably have responded, they make sick people better… right?” (well I’d probably give a better answer but you get the point). However, now I am much more informed and am going to tell you (the completely oblivious reader) what a GP actually does for a job, in my humble opinion.

Ready… ok, here we go.

Obviously they sit down with their patients, check symptoms, prescribe medication and make referrals when necessary, but they also do a lot more. They provide biopsychosocial care for their patients (I know its a big word, but let me dissect it for you).

  • They provide biological care by doing the obvious things I mentioned earlier, such as diagnosing illnesses and disease and prescribing medicine to make the patient better.
  • They provide psychological care by ensuring their patient is as comfortable and happy as possible.
  • They provide social care by ensuring that the patient’s family and loved ones are coping well with any medical problems involving the patient, and by helping them to understand the situation and reach the best outcome possible.

I find this care that they provide to be of huge importance, as they are the central hub of all medical information related to their patient. They have access to all their patient’s scans, blood tests, doctor’s notes etc. and it is the GP’s job to coordinate all this information and use it to provide the best care possible for their patient, as well as ensuring that their patient is as happy as possible with what is happening. They are of huge importance to the life of their patient and their family. The confidentiality of their appointments makes the trust the patient puts in the GP huge, allowing the best care possible to be provided.

Another thing that I found fascinating about GPs is that they have a lot more independence than a medical professional in a hospital, as they work in a surgery run by GPs. A GP partner has to take care of their patients as well as play a role in running their surgery, allowing them more freedom to do what they want to do, and care for their patients how they see best. This is important as roughly 90% of all medical treatment is done by GPs, who provide primary care. Only 10% is actually done in hospitals.

One final thing I found interesting is how a GP forms a long term relationship with their patient. A patient will be assigned to a specific local surgery, where they will visit their own personal GP. This means the GP knows a lot about their patient and their medical history, allowing them to better understand their patient’s situation. This relationship means that the GP will sometimes have to act as a detective. Their patient may come in saying that they have a swollen throat or bad headache, but the underlying problem may be that they are struggling to cope with caring for their husband who has a severe cancer, and they just need someone to talk to. Only the GP can identify this issue by piecing together different pieces of information. These long term relationships also allow a GP to care for patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, temporary conditions such as pregnancy as well as short term easily cured conditions such as tonsillitis. The GP will arrange regular checkups for long term illnesses to ensure that patients can control their conditions, to prevent severe outcomes.

These are some of the things I learnt during my day at the GP surgery. A fascinating profession which I enjoyed learning about and I feel has made me more informed about a career in medicine.

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