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GP options

Want to get away from your desk and have some excitement while still putting your medical training to excellent use?

Dr Greg Simons has the answer

ualifications required. None. Full UK registration with the GMC if in training or Certificate in Prescribed or Equivalent Experience for trained GPs. All other training will be given.

You will attend a course at Sandhurst to learn the essentials of being an army officer.

Despite the general belief that you need to be super fit to join the TA, you do not need to be a fitness fanatic to complete this training. You will participate in a graduated exercise regime to get you to the required standard, which is eventually to be able to march four miles with a pack in under one hour.

What will it involve from day to day?

You will be a GP to the soldiers and officers of your unit. You will also become the local expert on all matters medical and provide limited advice on occupational medicine and even public health. On a recent tour of the Gulf one of my more important tasks was to trace and control an outbreak of dysentery.

On the military front you may be expected to lead a small team of medics and ancillary staff such as drivers, depending on the unit you join.

Commitment?

Your time! From 19 to 27 days a year, 14 of which are spent on an annual camp. The rest is made up of occasional weekends and training evenings. Other more exciting activities such as adventurous training all count.

There is also an undertaking to be called up (mobilised) in case of war.

Satisfactions?

Professionally, you get to practise in a wide variety of settings. Each have their own challenges, whether it is in the desert on an operational tour or in an Area Welfare Centre on a medical trek in the Himalayan foothills.

There are many opportunities to develop new interests through participating in organised activities ranging from golf to abseiling. Better still, this is all done with like-minded people, developing an unsurpassed camaraderie. This can lead to improved leadership skills and a significant boost in one's confidence.

Don't forget the great social life ranging from parties to formal 'black tie' dinner nights.

Money?

All wages in the army are calculated on a daily rate and these are quoted in the literature. Post-registered doctors prior to GPVT certification would join as a Captain on £81.09 per day. This rises to a Major on £102.51 for qualified and experienced GPs. This is further enhanced by a tax-free bonus of £350, rising to £1,380 (after five years) if you meet all your yearly training objectives. This would equate to £5,170.28 pa (gross) for a Major after five years' service. There is usually an opportunity to increase this with further days on expeditions, tours or additional training.

Downside?

There is no getting away from the commitment in time. A lot of people I have met through the TA use it as part of their relaxation or down time, with the added bonus of getting paid for it.

There is also the commitment to be called up. This can be potentially disruptive to any partnership so I would always advise you to discuss this with your partners before signing up. The BMA has very useful advice on amendments/additions to your partnership agreement to cater for this rare eventuality.

Summary

I would thoroughly recommend the TA to any GP who is up for some fun with like-minded people while being challenged both professionally and personally within one of the largest training organisations in the country.

Interested?

Simply phone the national call centre on

0845 603 8000 for the number and location

of your local unit, or visit the TA website on: www.ta.mod.uk/ta/medical

Greg Simons is a GP in Buckingham and a lieutenant-colonel in

the Territorial Army

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