General Practice is not exciting, but it is fulfilling

By Lauren Squires, with permission. Click image for her Instagram.

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.


  1. I read this and i was literally saying YASS. I am also a GP and i definitely could relate. Enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Zed says:

    Yes, not doing any nights or weekends was a definite plus for me. Over the four months that I did general practice, I found some aspects suited my personality. Because, I’m a trainee my appointments were longer than the GPs and I could really talk to patients. I could see the difference I was making over a period of time, especially with chronic conditions. I rarely needed to rush to a decision. I could follow patients up and review them. I had the luxury of time which is rare in hospital medicine.

  3. ackeldatter says:

    Good for you Mariechen! So happy to hear it’s going well!!! For n ow, I wish you a very mundane day!


  4. Robyn says:

    You described all the reasons I love primary care, especially in public health. Taking the time to talk to patients and seeing the positive effects of your intervention really is rewarding. Hospital medicine gave me a lot of anxiety so I really appreciate being able to stabilize and refer.

  5. Amy Neilson says:

    Love it! Exactly this. I had 6 months compulsory GP time to get my FACRRM. I avoided it for ages, and then made many elaborate arguments to the college of why my mass of primary care in ED time should suffice… but they didn’t budge. I eventually worked in ED and GP at the same time to get through… but for all it was hard, it was incredibly worthwhile.

    Learned very much and lots of fun moments to enjoy!

    It’s exactly as you say that the last thing you want is a sick patient as it means others waiting etc. And there are undoubtedly so many wonderful moments every day where you can practice some great care.

    However, such challenges as well…
    Australia has largely privatised general practice though and I struggled immensely to charge people. Eventually I just couldn’t. This was not uncomplicated for a number of reasons.

    I also found that it’s difficult to hear challenging stories all day without the camaraderie of ED. Am forever grateful that EDs allow the kind of team environment that I find I need.

    Hope you enjoy your time!

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