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Career taster - police surgeon

Frustrated by the current lack of partnerships, Dr Ruth Chapman is looking for a new challenge and over the coming weeks will be shadowing GPs in various positions to see which general practice ‘dish’ is for her. This week, she writes about shadowing a police surgeon in Surrey.

Frustrated by the current lack of partnerships, Dr Ruth Chapman is looking for a new challenge and over the coming weeks will be shadowing GPs in various positions to see which general practice ‘dish' is for her. This week, she writes about shadowing a police surgeon in Surrey.

Why it was on my job menu I'm an avid fan of the television series CSI and was hoping it would be a bit like that. After shadowing a police surgeon, however, I can see the job has its own unique challenges. The work involves assessing arrestees at police stations and occasionally attending a sudden death. It was described as ‘quite like A&E work' and I also heard the pay was good.

Skills and traits required You need confidence in dealing with angry and verbally abusive patients. Many have been involved in assaults or are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Police chaperones are available and there are panic buttons in the medical rooms. You need a good sense of direction (or satnav) for driving to various police stations.

Necessary training Initially you must complete a five-day foundation course, £2,150 (recouped by working a few Saturday night shifts). There is court training, although, if you master the art of writing a good statement, giving evidence can usually be avoided.

If you complete the Diploma in Medical Jurisprudence you receive an additional £2,659 a year. This enables you to become an expert witness which is paid well, but you may be asked to give evidence against other doctors. You require a detailed police check and have to sign the Official Secrets Act.

Avoid if You have a young family, as you work night shifts. Also avoid if you prefer continuity of care and interacting with your primary care team.

Pay rate You join a group of police surgeons covering a particular area or ‘patch', which is contracted out by the local police force. The pay is based on an item of service/consultation. At night you are paid £73.40 for the first patient seen and £48.90 for subsequent cases.

You could see 20 patients in a single night. During the day you see fewer patients and are paid £48.90 for the first case and £32.60 for subsequent cases. Details of fees are on the BMA website.

Job satisfaction rating **** (four out of five stars) One police surgeon told me she enjoys the independence of working on her own. The work was described as ‘an antidote to the coughs and colds of general practice'. Future career opportunities seem exciting.

Find out more

www.fflm.ac.uk/

www.rcplondon.ac.uk/faculty/forensicandlegalmedicine/

www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/content/splashpage

Dr Ruth Chapman works as a GP locum and is on the flexible career scheme (while waiting for series eight of CSI)

Dr Ruth Chapman Dr Ruth Chapman

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