GP specialty training: the pros and the cons
General practitioners in the UK are the equivalents of family physicians, as they are known elsewhere. In the UK, General practice is the engine that runs the entire health system. GPs are the coordinators of services and often the advocates for patients.
GP specialty training is quite popular among international medical graduates and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the length of GP training is at least 3 years presently. This is much less than most other specialties where you could be in training for an average of 6 years. The short length of training is attractive to a lot of people, even those who have been in other specialties in the past.
Secondly, GP training seems to be family-friendly. It is relatively easy to train as less-than-full-time and not be disadvantaged in any way while training. It is also relatively easy to take maternity/paternity leave and train at your own pace without feeling too much pressure. Although the specialty training requires you to maintain an e-portfolio, complete workplace-based assessments and pass your exams (AKT and CSA), these can be achieved with minimal pressure.
General practice as a specialty has a few advantages and one of these is the flexibility that it provides for one to choose how much or what kind of work one would engage in. For example, you could be a GP partner, work as a salaried GP or a locum GP. You could also delve into other special interests like dermatology, musculoskeletal medicine or occupational health. Importantly, you could also choose not to work at the weekends or unsociable hours.
On the flip side, however, there could be a few turn-offs to general practice. Although GPs are specialists in family medicine, as primary care doctors it is expected that GPs have a very broad range of knowledge and skills. As a result, one has to always be up-to-date with current practice in different fields of medicine. Unfortunately, there are going to be many aspects of medicine where one would not be very knowledgeable. Particularly if you have not had the opportunity to rotate through some specialties during your training. The way to overcome this would be to ensure constant personal development in those areas of deficiency.
Most GPs enjoy their vocation and tend to have a good work-life balance. So, If you are contemplating going into general practice, it is worth giving it a go. Fortunately, it is also relatively uncomplicated to get into GP training as the process is quite straight-forward and competition is currently not as high as other specialties, like surgery.