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Salaried GPs, stop moaning and start working for a partnership

Too many younger GPs seem to believe they have a divine right to a partnership, says Dr Bhaskar Bora. If they really want a partner position, they need to knuckle down and work for it, just as people do in accountancy and law

Too many younger GPs seem to believe they have a divine right to a partnership, says Dr Bhaskar Bora. If they really want a partner position, they need to knuckle down and work for it, just as people do in accountancy and law

Partnerships are only a dream for newly qualified GPs. Or at least, that's the common moan. But is it really all doom and gloom? When I was looking for a partnership, everyone I asked said things couldn't be much worse than they are now. Like everybody else, I was getting dejected, to the point of thinking about an alternative career. Then I thought, is this the only way to look at it? Why should I take getting a partnership for granted? Is having to work a bit for a partnership position really the end of the world?

Though opportunities are rarer than they once were, there are still a lot to be taken. All we need is a change of approach. Salaried GPs should accept that just having the qualifications doesn't mean having a right to partnership - the question is how to stand out in a crowd. Rather than moaning about the hopelessness of the situation, newly qualified GPs and salaried GPs need a 'go for it' attitude.

I wondered whether I was up to the task of gaining partnership and, above all, whether I had really tried hard enough. For a long time, in accountancy and law, people have had to go the extra mile and persevere for years to earn a partnership. Why should general practice be any different? I began to think about how I might stand out.

I decided to take up the challenge and plan ahead. Luckily for me, I was inspired by my trainer, who is a very pragmatic person, good at finding opportunity in adversity, and who taught me planning and time management. And here I am today, among the lucky few to secure a full-time partnership after completion of GPVTS training. Looking back, this is how I did it.

Honing your skills

Planning early made a huge difference. I decided to do my exams as early as I could and fortunately was able to finish my CSA and AKT 10 months before the end of my registrar year. With the exams out of the way, it left me time to broaden my experience. I completed a certificate in management and other courses on leadership and teaching. I completed my Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning, competencies in IUD and implant fittings and in minor surgery. These skills leave me well suited both to the services provided by a practice and also to generating income.

Perfecting your CV

Your CV is very important - it can make the difference between whether you secure an interview or not. That now became my main priority. I spent a long time on the internet looking at CV styles, especially the ones associated with big organisations in business and IT. I found a range of styles and was able to merge them to produce an attractive final CV. I know it worked because I got shortlisted for six jobs out of 13 I applied for. Equally important is the covering letter, as many employers don't bother to look at the CV if the letter doesn't appeal to them. There are resources on the internet for that too.

Applying early

I still had nine months left in my training and I was already stressed about getting a job. Some of my colleagues laughed at me when I considered applying for jobs then. But apply I did. I sent off my first application for a job as a salaried GP in November 2008 and was encouraged when I was shortlisted. After that I applied for 12 more jobs, including partnerships, and was shortlisted many more times.

Planning for the interview

Being shortlisted for three partnership posts gave me a lot of confidence, so the next step was the interview. I spent a lot of time finding out about the practices I was being interviewed for, including their QOF points, patient survey results and future plans. I made a case presentation for each, including what I could offer to the practices as a partner for their future development.

The interview

The final hurdle. Not being under pressure was the key, and the fact I had more than one interview to go for really helped.

Each interview was different. One was an informal discussion, another a formal, structured interview in two stages. I had plenty of opportunity to present my business case. When I asked for feedback later, I was told it was my research about practices that made me stand out.

It was reassuring to secure a job with time remaining on my training. But that wasn't the end of the matter. I worked with my trainer to get to know the intricacies of partnership, including the business and legal side of it, during the last months.

It is a demanding job, both in terms of time and effort but I am really enjoying it, more so because I have earned it by planning and hard work.

Perhaps a positive approach and a great trainer made the difference. I don't think it's all doom and gloom. Senior GPs and their salaried colleagues should all work this out together. Older GPs need to provide more openings, as the sense of ownership among new partners will be better for the practice. But salaried and newly qualified GPs should be more proactive in sourcing the opportunities that are there. After all, these are the times for change if we get up and do something about it.

Dr Bhaskar Bora is a GP partner in Greenhithe, Kent

Your CV is very important to your chances of securing a partnership Your CV is very important to your chances of securing a partnership

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