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Why I chose GP life over dentistry

A tortuous path

took Dr Rosie Shotts from teeth filling to general practice

y path to general practice was tortuous. As a child medicine had always appealed, but I was repeatedly told dentistry was a better choice for a woman. So off I went to Guy's Hospital to learn the necessary skills.

In the final term I was sent for two weeks to the maxillofacial unit at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester. It was early August, all the new housemen had just started and I found myself enthralled with hospital life. It all seemed so much more exciting than filling teeth.

One day a registrar set on a career in maxfax was filling in his UCCA form to apply for medicine. I was jealous, so I followed suit.

I enjoyed medical school, and I can now admit openly that I disappeared for the occasional week to do maxfax locums. I regularly took up the registrar post at my medical school in the long preclinical holidays.

Following house jobs I got a surgical rotation which started with orthopaedics. This was the first hospital job I did not enjoy. I was the only SHO, I floated between teams and was an extra when on call. I felt supernumerary.

A&E in a London teaching hospital was the next part of the rotation and proved to be my lowest point. I left early and found a registrar post in oral medicine. This is a rather specialist field and is probably best described as dermatology of the mouth.

A huge mistake

I was aware early on I may have made a huge mistake. Clinics were civilised and a world away from the bedlam of A&E, but the emphasis was on putting out papers and research and I didn't find this at all congenial. I enjoyed seeing the patients, who were mainly chronic cases, and it was then I began to think general practice might be the answer.

I thought long and hard and decided to go for it.

I went back to do paediatrics and obs and gynae at a district general hospital and did not look back.

Having thoroughly enjoyed my SHO posts I was lucky to find a GP registrar job in Chesham, a semi-rural town in Buckinghamshire.

The year flew by and I gave little thought to what I would do next, but I suspected it would be locum work.

A few months before finishing I saw an advert for GPs with an interest in head and neck surgery; a part-time post at Guy's. I applied, spent a morning with the professor on his clinic, then talked the job over.

It was suggested there should be two doctors who would rotate, one doing clinic for three months while the other was in theatre. One post was offered to me.

Job-share opportunity

Delighted I would be able to use my dual qualifications, I returned home. That evening my trainer called and told me a partner in his practice wanted to drop to half-time. Was I interested in a job-share? I simply could not believe my luck.

So that is how I find myself one day involved in 14-hour operations on head and neck cancer cases, with the opportunity to do bits of neck dissections and radial forearm flaps, and seeing patients in practice the next. I may have gone a roundabout route but, a year on, I consider myself very lucky.

I couldn't believe my luck when a job-share came up in a local practice~

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