One week of some GP locums and I am exhausted.
I can spend 10 minutes per consultation if people have straight-forward tonsillitis or gastroenteritis.
But what about the parents who are hesitant about vaccinating? I need more than ten minutes to make an impact.
What about the woman whose pregnancy test was unexpectedly positive, and needs to discuss options? She might not have anyone else to discuss options with.
What about the myriad people with psychiatric illness? I need more than ten minutes to figure out if it’s depression, or if there is a history of hypomanic spells. Is it substance induced? Is there another general medical condition? Who can start someone on antidepressants after a ten minute consult?
And what about the worried well? The old people with children abroad, with a bag full of chronic medication, and stories of challenges as numerous as the stars.
My dad has a favourite piece of advice for new graduates. It goes something like this:
Remember that when you come into contact with a patient, you may be the only person that touches them that day. The only person that hears their voice, that looks into their eyes. Make sure your touch is a kind one.
General Practitioners are pushed for time (and push their locums for time) because it’s the only way they can make any kind of profit, really. I understand that. But that is not the family medicine that I was taught, and I’m having trouble finding the balance.