As I enter into my third month of General Practitioner work, I find myself reflecting. I started with private GP locums to fill the gap til I got the job I wanted. But now I’m signing a contract and I’m here to stay – for at least another five months.
One evening, my housemate asked, “So, did anything interesting happen at work today?” When I responded in the negative, we laughed about how my work had become almost mundane compared to working in hospital and coming home with fascinating stories of grotesque injuries and life-saving surgeries practically every day.
It’s true: this work is not exciting.
But it is fulfilling.
It’s good to be able to follow up on my patients – to see what works, and what does not, with my own eyes.
It was good when one man was so happy with my management of him, that he brought his whole family in to see me the next day.
It is good to be able to ask someone, “So how did the job interview go?” or “How was your cycling race?” They are not my friends, they are my patients. But I know how important it has been to me when I connect in some small way with my own doctors.
In hospital medicine, I often worked so hard to get a patient better; and very often I would never know how they were doing outside of hospital.
The truth is: no GP wants an “exciting” patient. Like when an elderly patient arrives in acidosis, which I can’t even confirm because this is not a damn hospital. It means trying to stabilise them while simultaneously convincing a nearby hospitalist to accept them, and waiting on the ambulance to collect them. It means that the whole day is delayed, and other patients feel grumpy about waiting so long, and I invariably miss out on lunch while trying to catch up.
The best thing I can do for an “exciting” patient is recognise their condition and keep them alive until transfer. Give me patients that don’t need hospital admission and I can make them feel better now, and try to affect at least one health-related decision about their future.
The reality is that this work is challenging on so many levels. The reality is that I’m probably not cut out to do this for a long time, for reasons best described in another post. The reality is that eventually, I will probably return to hospital medicine for the Public sector.
But for now, I’m learning volumes daily. I’m enjoying every high-five from a snot-nosed kid, and every thank you from their worried mothers. And I am certainly enjoying not having 24 hour-shifts.