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Five months as a First 5

It's been five months now since I qualified as a (First5) GP, so I thought I would reflect on my experiences and summarise five points and a few websites I have found useful for getting started as a fully-fledged GP.

I was fortunate to be offered a two month partner cover locum by my trainer and found this to be a very supportive environment to learn all the things that GP training does not prepare you for,  like completing insurance forms, performing insurance medicals, keeping up to date with all the paperwork, hospital letters and pathology reports, etc. I am now working as a locum GP whilst studying for the distance learning diploma in Dermatology at Queen Mary's in London.


  1. Ensure you have your paperwork sorted. This includes your CCT certificate, that you are on the performers list as a GP in the area where you intend to do most of your work and organising medical indemnity; this will be dependent upon the number of sessions you are planning to do.
  2. Getting work. If you are planning on working as a locum you need to ensure you have registered as self-employed, you can do this yourself via the HMRC website (1) or via an accountant.  Helpful websites for finding locum salaried and partnership positions include GP networks (2) and BMJ careers website (3). If you planning on talking up a salaried position it would be worthwhile checking the contract conditions with the BMA model contract (4). There is also the option of working out of hours (OOH) either full time or for extra money.
  3. Money matters. It is important to get organised especially if you are self-employed; ensure you have excel sheets with records of locum works for invoices, remember to put aside money owed for tax and national insurance, keep records of expenses to claim including petrol mileage,  courses, stationary, etc. Alternatively some people find Penny Perfect (5) and locum organiser (6) helpful. Every month ensure you get your pension form ‘A' (7) competed by the practice manager and then transfer this information to pension form ‘B' (8) and post along with cheque to your PCT.
  4. Getting involved with the RCGP and your local faculty. There are an abundance of opportunities to get involved and have your say. I have enjoyed being part of the RCGP Southwest Thames Faculty as both the communication lead and the First5 lead and find them very welcoming. The meetings also have a very interesting lecture and all this counts towards your CPD points! Each RCGP has First5 faculty lead; you can find yours on the RCGP website.
  5. Keeping up to date. Keep up to date with CPD and arrange appraisals. It is a good idea to keep a list of all your learning and CPD points, and to decide which toolkit to use; I found the RCGP one helpful (8). It is essential to have Resus training annually; I attended the RCGP conference (9) which gave me lots of points whilst brushing up on all the latest guidelines and allowed me to do a Resus course as well. There are also a number on online resources for First5 on the RCGP website (10). A CPD group is a great way of keeping up to date and getting support from fellow GP peers. (11) (12) (13) First5 can also continue to subscribe for Innovait; I still enjoy reading them as a qualified First5 GP. Other useful online learning modules include RCGP eLearning (14), BMJ modules (15) and Pulse modules (16).  

Former 'GPs to be' blogger, Dr Jaspreet Kaur Grewal is a newly qualified GP and RCGP First5 and Communication Lead for Southwest Thames Facuty


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