A portfolio career in general practice and medical education

Jillwilson Following my GP training in Cornwall where I saw the best in ‘frontier medicine’ I moved to London and became a partner for a few years until the lure of the West Country drew me home to Somerset and the bosom of my family.

I have been in the same practice now for 24 years and have been senior partner there for the last 3.

During that time I have been able to pursue many interests in medical education – teaching medical students, becoming an appraiser and trainer, and for the last 7 years a programme director for the GP specialist training scheme as well as a keen member of the Tutor group for the GP school so am involved in training the next generation of educationalists. I even managed to squeeze in a masters in medical education.

Together with my husband I have also raised three amazing children and a few families of springer spaniels, burmese cats and shetland sheep.

For me this sums up the beauty of a career in general practice – I have been able to live where I wanted, work as I chose and follow up interests as and when they arose.

As a partner I have always been involved with direction-setting in my practice and had an equal voice with the full-timers.

As a GP educator I have been invited to sit at many tables – at the School of Primary Care, at the RCGP at Faculty and National level, at LMC and CCG meetings and most recently to give evidence at the Select Committee for Health in Parliament.

It is reassuring how open people are to the views of jobbing GPs like me, and how rewarding it has been to successfully juggle all my chosen roles over the years. I believe general practice is the best way to achieve the ideal work – life balance and am happy to support others to find the right balance for them.

Jill Wilson

New GP Network on the cusp of launch

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It has been 18 months since I first had the idea for a GP network linking those with special interests and extended roles. GP+ Networking is finally about to launch in beta form and I feel this cartoon summarises my journey beautifully. It is far from over but reminds me that what I am experiencing is normal for innovation and not a reason to stop moving forward. Now with the help of my supporters we can ensure GP+ Networking reaches its full potential for the General Practice community. We are currently working with potential sponsors. For further information contact us via www.medicalnetworking.co.uk

Balancing Home Life and Extended Roles with a GP Career

Veronica Wilkie GP+ NetworkingI have been a GP for 25 years and still regard my clinical job (two and a half days a week) as core to who I am and it supports and informs my role as Professor of Primary Care at the University of Worcester.

Like many GPs I have had a number of roles in a number of organisations, rather than following a straightforward GP educator or Academic GP career. If I was to look back at the last 25 years there are a few key events that have coloured my career.

The first, becoming a GP tutor when I had been in practice for 5 years. This catapulted me into the word of education and started a networking habit I have never been able to lose. Although a rookie and relatively young, the West Midlands Tutor group were phenomenally welcoming and supportive. I read, and read and observed and went to every training session or educational conference I could.

The next was an opportunity to do a Masters Degree in Evidence Based Practice at Oxford University. My time out was covered by the Prolonged Study Leave Scheme (Oh so needed now), which enabled the practice to employ a locum for the 3 weeks of teaching a year for 3 years at Oxford. I paid for my tuition fees myself and learnt more than just the curriculum meeting with clinicians form all over the world. I continue to have a great network of EBM teachers and still run courses and conferences to this day. The academic rigour of writing essays “critically” has helped my future research and business case development for projects in the NHS, DoH and university since
I moved from the Deanery (which then used to be the regional centre for all doctor training) to a University in 2007. WE were in a small unit which worked at a national and international level. I was able to learn from a great mentor, and continued to network to develop academic skills

Through all of this I have looked at my home and work balance. I’m married to another GP and reduced my hours in the practice so that I could always attend school events, and managed always to work opposite my husband (although in another practice) so that one of us was always home by 6, and there for swimming lessons, changes in my non practice roles were decided as a family team. I used to never work when the children were small until they were in bed. I value all my non medical friends as much as the medics and have tried to have a charity input (now a governor of a hospice, but I have been a nursery trustee, and member of various parent committees at the boys school)

I have been lucky with the practice. We have an agreement that all full time or nearly full time partners can do one session out of the practice – even if its a lost leader, and can take a second one out at replacement cost. We are now a happy and settled partnership of 7, who have now grown to more than cover the cost of our salaried and PA team as we have got more senior over the years, and our outward facing culture I think makes us more resilient

I am now where I couldn’t have predicted a few years ago, I enjoy all aspects of my working week, and am enjoying another “start up” in another University.

So:

  • Surround yourselves with enthusiasts
  • Don’t look always at the money, paying for your own education or starting work in a role that pays less than a locum will bring dividends in the medium and long term
  • Home time is for families, try and separate work and home
  • Whatever role you have enjoy it

Veronica Wilkie
Professor of Primary Care
The University Of Worcester
Partner The Corbett Medical Practice
Academic Lead HEWM Urgent care GP project

I never had any doubt that I wanted a GP career

GP+ Networking Martin RolandI never had any doubt that I wanted a GP career. It always seemed to me the most varied, interesting and challenging branch of medicine and I’ve always liked never knowing what would come in the door next. I think the ‘routine’ bits of general practice must be more varied than almost any other job on earth. I also really like the freedom of being in a practice where we were our own bosses and could organise our own time within our GP career.

When I finished my vocational training, I thought I’d try academic general practice for a few years and found I really enjoyed the research though it took a while to discover whether I’d be any good at it.

Anyhow, 35 years and 250 research publications later, it seems to have worked out OK. I was Professor of General Practice in Manchester for 18 years and I’m now Professor of Health Services Research at Cambridge.

Much of my research has been about measuring and improving quality of care, and one of the continuing challenges has been how to influence primary care policy in the NHS. I have quite a lot of meetings in Whitehall and it’s surprising how often I’m round a table when I’m the only person who’s ever seen a patient. Not what I thought I’d be doing when I started out as a GP.

Professor Martin Roland CBE

Expanding Horizons. GP+ Networking at RCGP

RCGP Annual Conference 2015

My first RCGP conference was buzzing with enthusiasm and it was great to meet so many medical students and AiT/First 5 members looking at new and exciting ways of working within a career in General Practice. I received a lot of support regarding GP+ Networking and will continue to work with college members to ensure support is given to those wanting support within their GP career will receive it.

There was a fantastic small group with GPs who already do something outside mainstream GP and I hope to replicate that buzz via the coach matching platform on the website. I believe that mentoring and coaching from those working within the profession with similar interests and goals to oneself is so important for morale, productivity and general enjoyment of the profession. Over the next few months I will be pushing the website hard to ensure we have fantastic potential coaches and enlivenment through enthusiastic and inquisitive juniors coming through at the beginning of their career.

If you want to be part of this then please register via www.medicalnetworking.co.uk. and find out more. I am aware we have limited time so setting up a profile will be quick and easy. You will have so much to share on your profile because you have been through the development of your extended role and work within it. Just think back at all the information, guidelines, documents stored on your computer or within your favourites that you wish you had when starting out. Put it to good use and lets make it easier for others who have little more than enthusiasm by showing how to navigate through.

My favourite quote of the conference was used by Maureen Baker ” If you want to be incrementally better be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better be collaborative”