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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Clinical care for the patient with HIV

Dr Richard Fieldhouse answers the Pulse careers questionnaire

What/who made you decide to go into general practice?

After deciding against being an astronaut and a policeman, my burning career ambition was to study medicine, having become morbidly curious on discovering an anatomical atlas in a neighbour's dustbin (it was that sort of neighbourhood) ­ although it hadn't really occurred to me that the outcome of studying medicine would be to be a doctor. I toyed with the idea of being an obstetrician, once at medical school, but working as a junior doctor removed any desire to work in a hospital. So I went into general practice, and loved it.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a doctor?

Having failed to get into medical school on my predicted grades, I had a place to study brewery at Herriot-Watt University, just in case. My alternative though would have been to totally change course and become an architect.

Who's your career role model/guru?

This has to be my trainer, Julian. He was cool, calm, caring ­ rarely flustered. A lateral thinker ­ dedicated yet managing to hold everything in perspective. And Neil Young.

What's your career high-point so far?

Going part-time ­ it's so much more fun. I get the greatest buzz from making sad people happy. Invariably, they feel sad because they've lost control of their lives. And, unfortunately, it's all too easy to reinforce that by medicalising their lack of self-confidence and worth by dishing out antidepressants. Because I work part-time and freelance, and they don't know me from Adam, I feel I've often got the time ­ and the anonymity ­ to go into greater depth with their issues and reinforce their capacity to deal with their anxieties themselves. To empower an unhappy person to take control of their lives in the space of a few consultations makes the job really worthwhile for me.

On the NASGP side of things, it was setting up the organisation in the first place ­ coming up with, and acting upon, the idea and working closely with a group of really passionate people from all across the country who'd never met before. We worked very hard in our spare time to make the NASGP the success it is today.

Worst moment

When my partners-to-be told me I wasn't going to be their partner. We had very different ideas about how a practice should be run, and I'd gone about it like a bull in a china shop. I just didn't fit in.

Office wall

Don't tell anyone this, but NASGP HQ is actually a spare room in my home. Several black-and-white photos taken by me in my youth, and a motley collection of paintings that I'm quite fond of, bought from local artists or auctions.

What leisure interests do you/would you list on your Who's Who entry?

I took up Aikido two years ago and love it ­ I just wish I could get my friends to go too. I've also started guitar lessons ­ kicking myself for not having started years ago ­ and have got right back into windsurfing after a break while my boys were small. I run, swim and go to the gym regularly; love reading, hate TV and play badminton and drink beer with my friends every Sunday night. Skiing with my wife.

What's your fantasy career move?

To be the manager for my two boys' rock band on their first world tour. Jake (seven) has just started piano and Toby (nine) has got his grade one violin, so we're not talking of the immediate future. What they lack in talent, they make up for in attitude. Just so rock 'n' roll.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse

is chief executive

of the National Association of Sessional GPs and a locum in Chichester

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