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Book Review - A new GP's first year in practice

A lighthearted look at general practice may be just what you need, says reviewer Dr Jeremy Phipps.

'Confessions of a GP' by Dr Benjamin Daniels
'Confessions of a GP' by Dr Benjamin Daniels

This is an enjoyable read from an anonymous inner city locum GP, full of personal views and true-to-life stories of primary care in 2010.

The author clearly enjoys practising medicine and the book covers his work through hospital training to general practice. He is very positive about his career choice and sees a clear path ahead.

The book covers some of the difficulties of general practice but also stresses the astounding confidence many patients have in their doctor.

While the tale of a female patient believing that if her GP writes to singer Tom Jones, he will leave his wife in favour of her is rather extreme, many patients still believe in the great power of 'a letter from your doctor'.

Some situations will be familiar, for example, patients transferring their responsibility for a problem to the doctor. The author tells when a wayward husband attempted to pass his guilt about a potential STI and marital breakdown on to him.

Relaxed and open style
The book is written as a series of two to three-page scenarios that cover individual cases or a similar group of clinical problems. This, along with its relaxed, open style, makes for easy reading and ensures that the book can be picked up and dipped into after any time gap.

For a few GPs, some of the content may be a little mundane. This is not a criticism as it reflects so accurately much of the day-to-day job and consequently may seem rather routine.

Working as the author does as a locum in an inner city practice, there are areas that seem at variance with some of my practice work in a rural area.

While I recognise that a small number of patients fail to realise that much of our work is undertaken because it is our job rather than through friendship, there are incidences related in the book where the doctor/patient relationship extends beyond the surgery.

For example, there are descriptions of neighbours, friends and colleagues asking the author for help with issues beyond what a GP consultation should normally cover.

However, this does not detract from the pleasure of this light-hearted look at primary care. The accounts of some of the difficulties that GPs face on a regular basis would probably surprise many patients and therefore provide insight into the work of their family doctor.

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