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Rose-tinted glasses?

A few weeks ago, on the cusp of entering our ST3 (and final) year of GP training, our teaching group was asked to draw a picture of how we felt about our training so far. Initial horror at having to share my artistic skills with the group was replaced with an array of different emotions – as I recalled my varied hospital posts, memorable consultations, home visits in the middle of no where, and passing my AKT. How could I sum all that up on one piece of paper with the aid of stick men? I could see other members of the group floundering as well – some of them shielded their papers with their arms, as if in an exam. After some thought, I decided on a see-saw – with myself on one end and my patients and learning on the other.

Then it was time to hold the picture up and share our thoughts with the rest of the group – no hiding my stick men now! I said my picture best reflected the highs and lows of training and the feeling that some days you’re on top of things and the next a patient completely takes you by surprise. Overall, I said, my picture was mostly positive as it was set in a sunny park with birds in the sky – and this was my overriding feeling about training.

I listened as everyone else held their picture up in turn and I was surprised to notice an overwhelming theme of positivity and satisfaction. This seems in stark contrast to the recent BMA snapshot survey of GPs in Wales I read about in June of this year. This got me thinking about what changes between training and qualification? As trainees we have excellent protected teaching time and the most ‘one on one’ training of all the other specialties I know. Having been in hospital posts I feel very lucky to get a regular joint surgery with my supervisor dedicated just to my learning. That all goes once we qualify – and I think I will definitely miss the opportunity to reflect and discuss cases so easily.

Or was our group’s positivity because we were feeling nostalgic about leaving our current GP practices and moving onto our new ones? Only time (and possibly the pressure of the CSA) will tell. I’ll keep you posted…  

Kimberley Bruce is an ST3 in Bristol.