I spent the previous three years of my career in surgical training, with a view to doing ENT.
Looking back, I had realised that life as a surgeon was not for me, but I was apprehensive about taking the first steps down a career path that was so different from surgery. Thankfully, those fears have proved to be unfounded and I very much enjoy my career choice.
Road to GP life
My wife is a GP partner in Liverpool. Through her own experience, she provided me with an insight into GP life. Her support enabled me to make an informed career choice. She was a significant influence on helping me in my decision to become a GP.
My work/life balance has very much improved, and as a result I feel I am much happier.
During my GP registrar year, I had the opportunity to work with the BMA as the registrar representative for the Mersey deanery. This was very enjoyable and allowed me access to some of the politics that go on behind the scenes.
I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in medical politics, because you meet a lot of interesting and influential people, and you are kept right up to date with any proposed government-led changes.
Locum to GP partner
Since completing the VTS, I worked for several months as a locum.
I was surprised by just how much organisation is required for locum work: an up-to-date diary planned three months in advance, chasing unpaid invoices and stressing about how many sessions are booked for the next month. I suppose this is weighed against the benefit of higher income per session.
The real benefit of working as a locum is that it allows you to work in a number of practices in a short amount of time.
It gives you a feel for different practices and different ways of working. It also allows you to accumulate ideas, and effectively share working models and management solutions.
I now work as a salaried GP in a practice in Lymm in Cheshire, with a view to partnership over the next 18 months.
I have been in Lymm for nearly eight months now and have been lucky to have found a job working with people who I value and respect.
I am an integral part of a team, working towards a common goal. I look forward to many years at the practice, helping to forge a plan for the future.
Sources of worry
My concerns for general practice as a whole are likely to be very similar to those shared by others in the profession.
The government's endless tinkering, not just with general practice, but the NHS at large, is making the whole system overly stressful and complicated.
I am also concerned about the 'us and them' mentality existing between hospitals and PCTs.
A system whereby the hospital charges the PCT a fee for a 'service' seems counterproductive. A referral to secondary care is very often an inescapable truth: we act in the best interest of the patient, with what we believe to be the best management.
I am sure everyone has their own stories of woe, such as of two separate referrals being required for each leg. These can become a real source of frustration and cumulatively drive an ever-growing wedge between primary and secondary care.
General practice has given me greater flexibility with my career. It has allowed me to take on and develop roles that a career in surgery would never have permitted.
I am keen to become more involved with LMCs and am hoping to win a seat on our local committee in the upcoming nominations.
I really enjoyed working with the BMA as a registrar and would like to continue work within a similar role.
Some things about general practice are not ideal, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. It is debatable how much longer this balance will last, so long as the NHS continues to be used as a political football.
If the government listened to what patients wanted rather than putting its own spin on what patients say, then at last, progress could be made.
I enjoy my job and my chosen career path, and am very glad I made the switch from surgery. I look forward to the challenge that the years ahead will bring.
|1997-2002: University of Liverpool (MBChB)|
2003-2006: Basic surgical training rotation
December 2007: MRCGP
February 2008: PMETB CCT awarded
February 2008-July 2008: Locum work
July 2008 to the present: Salaried GP
- Dr Bunstone is a salaried GP in Lymm, Cheshire
- Our panel of 35 GPs under 35 offers a fresh perspective on the issues facing the profession.