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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Fount of untapped skill

Dr Graham Archard answers the Pulse careers questionnaire

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

The independence of practice ­ away from hospital restrictions ­ and the ability to provide longitudinal holistic care. In general practice we are able to treat people, not patients and families, but individuals.

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

I would either have got into wines in a big way ­ import/export (and probably have had a 'pad' in France) ­ or may have become involved with classic cars. I'm not sure how good I would have been at this, though, as I do not have a brilliant business mind.

Who's your career role model/guru?

There are so many. The great texts in general practice have so much to offer from Balint through the Fortunate Man to modern texts. In particular I very much treasure the writings of James Willis and Roger Neighbour ­ even if I do not agree with everything they say all the time. But they make you think and challenge

what you are doing. Closer to home, I really respect the late Dr Paul Wright ­ my trainer

from Dorchester ­ at whose knee I learned so much valued wisdom and whom general practice was deprived of at too early an age from cancer. He showed me that not all fantastic doctors had taken the MRCGP, that there are many qualities by which to measure a GP's worth.

What's your career high-point so far?

Fellowship by assessment, Quality Practice Award, vice-chair of college, but, perhaps most of all, a genuine thank-you from a patient.

And the low-point?

Realising how little I know and how ineffective I can be on occasions.

Anything interesting on your surgery/office wall?

Photographs taken by my son who is reading photography at university and whose talent makes me very jealous!

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

Walking, good food, wines (in which I have taken exams), music (guitar and

keyboard), classic cars, tennis and being with my family.

What's your fantasy career move?

There is no other area of medicine I would prefer to be in. I feel we are in a really privileged position even though our heartsinks get us down from time to time, as do policy changes and hurdles we have to jump. But we are not alone ­ most professions are in the same boat. No, I wouldn't change my career.

Dr Graham Archard is RCGP vice-chair and a GP in Christchurch, Dorset

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