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My anti-burnout strategy for the next five years

The realisation that I have now surpassed my First5 years as a GP has been rather more significant than I anticipated.

Concluding my first revalidation a few months ago seemed an anticlimax, with no ceremony, brownie points or free pens involved. Instead came the prospect of completing a new round of PSQs and MSFs, with the resetting of the revalidation clock. It didn’t feel the same as the other five-year milestones of a ‘typical’ GP career – qualifying MRCGP, and five years previous to that, qualifying in medicine.

But whether our logs evidence it or not, we GPs are a naturally reflective bunch, and I find myself looking back to look forward. Am I now a ‘wise one’, set to mobilise with a more confident walk and a look of experience; to be considered a ’master of these dark arts’?

Reassuringly, life has continued as normal, and I have been cajoling my professional life into enthusiasm for the next five years. The frustrations of compliance can be mediated by the freedom of ambition, and this is my anti-burnout strategy for the next five years.

And I am lucky to work in an environment where enthusiasm is easy to target.

Working in a rural area, the scope of my job extends beyond the fringes of MRCGP-defined GP practice on a fairly regular basis: from providing advanced emergency care to being intrinsically, unavoidably (and often rewardingly) involved in the community in which we also live. From this can result a relatively haphazard approach to constructive development.

It is easy to flit between projects: there are so many challenges that offer the opportunity of improvement, that it can be difficult to screen out distraction in order to achieve focussed, well-implemented progress. For me, this five-year milestone has acted as an impetus to be a bit wiser – more strategic – in these areas.

I have always thought that five years of high-density clinical practice would be a solid trunk from which offshoots of interest in research, teaching and more could sprout. The truth, of course, is that five years have flown by, and with more experience comes even more awareness of the multifactorial complexity of health and wellbeing. More occasions for textbook anticipation to be wiped aside by the realities of everyday life, and the many unique and inspiring ways that our patients approach their health amongst everything else.

Some things will never change, and that’s not a bad thing.

Dr David Hogg is a GP on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. You can follow him on Twitter @davidrhogg