Why I love my job? I no longer care
The winner of Pulse’s writing competition, an anonymous GP, explains how he has managed to keep his career and his mental health
I’m quite enjoying work right now. There, I’ve said it.
My exception to the rule? I no longer care. The QOF, QIPP, LES and DES; the acronyms roll in effortlessly from the crooks and nannies of the new bureaucracies. Let them – they’re tumbleweed to me now.
What is it about our profession? We have the counter-intuition to do it all, irrespective of time or any concept of work-life balance.
For as long as I can remember, the Department of Health has plotted ever-more untenable workloads, its sums reliant on our failure. We find ourselves endlessly balking at the shockingly expanding days, duly delivered within an inch, and including never-dreamed-of maximums. More boxes, more hoops, more targets? Bring ‘em on. Then they snip the promised rewards, shorter-back-and-sides, and we still bloody do it.
So I’ve stopped – unless of course my partners are reading this. And do you know, I feel neither bad nor guilty.
I used to be like you. I used to lap up the guidelines every April, the lists of changes and challenges. I absorbed it all, a perfect lickspittle excreting lip service, pleased and proud of my self-flagellation. And then I broke.
At your next practice meeting look around. Who is the pillar of reliability, the wise owl senior partner? That was me, except when I went home I wept in my bed in fear of the forthcoming day.
I was lucky. I had the support of a wife who placed more value on the man than the monolith. I had partners who felt how close the grace of their particular God had scraped by them. I had an excellent GP, able to observe symptoms, ignore my self-diagnosis and give me the treatment I needed. I thank them all.
I survived. It’s true that serotonin reuptake has been part of this, giving me insight into these drugs and their actions. They’re not for all, I know, but, if your friends can tolerate the barking and car-chasing phase and, more importantly, you can accept the need to go through that, I hope my experience helps.
I’m back at work now and I love it. I have remembered and realised the truth: that we are not necessarily here for the good of our contract. Take a step back from ticking your boxes and look – actually look – at the person in front of you, who, unless you’re reading this during a meeting, is likely to be a patient.
And listen to them. The chances are you will enjoy the process, though perhaps you had forgotten you would.
My slightly sickly born-again experience was bolstered by me absolving myself of my responsibilities. But it’s working for me.
The author, a GP partner, wished to remain anonymous.
Pulse asked for talented GP writers to send us stories to inspire and amuse their colleagues, and we were bowled over by the quality of the entries submitted.
Nearly 30 GPs took the time to put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – and entries varied from amusing tales from consultations to clinical dilemmas or political ideas about general practice or the NHS in general.