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Being a GP partner is a great career, but do your homework to get off to a flying start – Dr John Hughes shows how
Dr John Hughes shows how
GP partnership is great.
I was relatively late starting, having enjoyed a variety of specialties and, for one reason or another, not finding my niche. This was no bad thing in the end as I gained a lot of experience along the way, which has always been useful. I have always thought it a shame that as junior doctors we get pigeonholed so early in our careers, without being able to experience medicine as a whole.
What attracted me to general practice was the autonomy, the lack of hierarchy, the ability to work as part of a close-knit team and yet still be able to develop particular clinical interests.
After qualifying as a GP I wanted to take up a partnership as soon as possible. I became a GP assistant for six months and this time allowed me to investigate advertised positions. As a medical student in a practice in mid-Wales I was attracted to rural posts and was willing to move for the right job. I looked in the classifieds and requested profiles for any advertisements that caught my eye.
I think it important to find out at this stage whether it is a PMS or GMS practice, number of partners/patients, whether there are on-site district nurses and health visitors etc, what are the on-call commitments, and whether the partners own the building. I arranged as many informal visits as possible and, like buying a house, there is a certain gut feeling as soon as you walk through the door.
I had decided that in an ideal world I would want a rural four-five partner practice, ancillary staff on-site, an out-of-hours co-operative in which the premises was owned by the partners.
My wife and I knew the Cotswolds a little and had often joked that it would be the perfect place to end up. After receiving the profile for Barn Close Surgery and having an informal visit, I knew it would be the ideal job as it fulfilled all my criteria, but most importantly the other GPs and staff were friendly and appeared to be people I would be able to get along with.
At the interview the job offer was clearly explained with vital information about the accounts, parity, notional rent and buying-in costs, all very well presented. I went away with a very clear and detailed understanding of what to expect.
Thankfully, I was offered the post and started just over 12 months ago. It is a wonderful place to live and work. I feel very privileged that this opportunity was given to me. After first being amazed at the amount of paperwork, I am enjoying developing my role within the practice and the responsibility it brings.
I get on very well with my partners and colleagues. We have a friendly and professional relationship, which is very open, with good communication throughout the team. We have an excellent practice manager who keeps us all under control. On top of all this, the practice is a lovely place to go to work each day.
Broadway is the only Cotswold village in Worcestershire. It is a beautiful place to visit, with many attractions for visitors and locals alike. The surrounding countryside offers some of the most picturesque scenery in the UK. Although rural, there are good road links to major centres and we never feel isolated. There are good schools locally, which again is important to find out about when moving to a new area with a young family.
Outside work, I enjoy mountain biking and photography, which are both well catered for. Motor racing is a passion of mine and we are lucky to have two of the oldest hillclimbs in the UK on our doorstep. I will soon be starting training as a marshall at the Prescott hillclimb circuit, which will be great fun. There is always entertainment at hand for our children, with wildlife parks, steam railways, the miniature village at Bourton-on-the-Water and boat trips at Stratford-upon-Avon. Friends and family always like visiting, as we are surrounded by places to see and things to do.
I certainly chose the practice with care – and got it right. It fulfils all my wishes, and more besides. Without sounding corny, I really believe general practice is the best job in the world. As GPs we are in a privileged position, which enables us to have a real impact on people's lives, to be the patients' advocate, practise sound medicine, be part of a community and have a good time while doing it.
I hope to provide modern health care in a traditional setting with a great team of colleagues, for many years to come.
John Hughes is a GP in Broadway, Worcestershire
Why I was attracted to GP partnership
lLack of hierarchy
lOpportunity to work in a closely-knit team
lOpportunity to develop particular clinical interests
Background I was careful
lPMS or GMS practice?
lNumber of partners/patients
lAre there on-site district nurses/health visitors etc?
lAre the surroundings attractive?
lIs there an out-of-hours
lAre premises owned by partners?
Information checked at interview