This is the second part of Dr Farah Jameel’s advice about working as a locum GP. Read the first part here.
Professional isolation is not uncommon as a locum. Here’s how to avoid that:
1. Network, socialise and stay up to date
Join a sessional group and or online groups like TIKO’s GP Group, Resilient GP, GP survival. They form a great resource in terms of discussing challenging cases, but also as a learning tool and to gauge how others may approach certain situations. It’s also helpful to be reminded that you are not alone, in how you feel, how patients can make you feel and how sometimes you don’t always have all the answers. There is usually a social element too with these groups.
Contact your local postgraduate centre, CCG and hospitals nearby about meetings and courses. You can ask to be put on their mailing list. Keeping up to date with CPD, appraisal and revalidation are a professional requirement.
2. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ and ask for help
Not everything fits into 10 minutes, sometimes patients shop around for new doctors, and sometimes you need support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and ask patients to rebook if they present with long lists of problems. Don’t be afraid to say no to a patient or a practice. Don’t feel pressurised to pander to patients demands, if you don’t feel comfortable – vocalise it and ask for support. When in doubt its best to pick up the phone and check with the practice staff.
3. Look after your health
It is inevitable; sickness can affect us all at any point. The limitations of being self-employed mean that if you do not work, you do not earn any money. It would be worth considering taking out life cover, critical illness cover, sickness and accident insurance etc as appropriate to your personal circumstances and needs.
For more information, the BMA Locum GP’s handbook is a useful resource to have and is free to all BMA members
Dr Farah Jameel is a sessional GP in London and a member of the GPC and Camden LMC