General Practitioner: the unsung hero

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By Dr Lamz Savage

Background

My name is Dr Olamide Savage and because in my mind I’m very cool, I get the staff at work to call me Dr Lams. I’m a GP working in Chelmsford, 3 days a week (because I look after a tiny human, aka my daughter, the rest of the time). I love my job.

My medical journey started way back in 2006 when a nervous but excited 18-year-old me, got accepted into Bristol medical school, much to my amazement. I was fresh from A- levels and didn’t know what to expect. I thought med school would be boring and daunting, but it ended up being very exciting, and by 5th year I was better at being a medical student in the lecture hall than I was in the bar (I’m a goner after 2 or 3 shots).

I decided to stay in the South West of England for my junior doctor years, because I really loved the area, the culture and the people. Additionally, I was bit bored of Bristol and liked the idea of learning Welsh (which I never actually did), so I decided to move to Cardiff.

Being a junior doctor has been the steepest learning curve on this ever-changing medical journey. There were many of those good days where you got the cannula in first time, or you got high praise from the consultant or Registrar for not fainting in surgery. There were fewer of the bad days, but the bad days did come, where you felt like there was no one to help and you’d rather hide in a broom closet than trust your clinical instincts. I did emerge from those 2 years victorious, like a phoenix from the ashes, and what I learnt was that I wanted to be the sort of doctor that got to know my patients’ stories and help them achieve a level of health that meant they could enjoy the things they love in life.

So, I decided to apply for GP training.

GP training

Currently the application for training is via a national process:

Stage 1; In order to apply you have to fulfil the eligibility criteria.

Stage 2; Involves passing an exam calledMulti Specialty Recruitment Assessment. This is a computer-based exam comprising both clinical and professional dilemma multiple choice questions.

Stage 3; Involves 3 simulated consultations (1 with a simulated patient, 1 with a relative orcarer and 1 with a colleague) and a written prioritisation exercise (essay style question).

I actually found this process further reaffirmed my interest in the speciality, because I had to read a wide breadth of information and combine it with good consultation skills in order to pass. I felt this suited my personality and interests quite well.

I moved to the East of England region, for my clinical training, which was a 3-year process, involving the trainee gaining experience in a wide variety of different specialties. I worked in geriatrics, general practice, A&E, ENT, and paediatrics over the course of the 3 years. I enjoyed each specialty but not enough to want to defect from GP training (although the paediatric staff did try their best, to get me to do so).

At the end of it all, to get that all important MRCGP (Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners) you then have to pass 2 exams, one is a computer based multiple choice examination on a wide range of clinical knowledge. The other is a number of simulated consultations testing your 10-minute consultation skills.

If you’re clever, you’d have noticed that they sandwich you in between 2 very similarly styled types of assessments, at the start and end of your training.

My final exams had me quaking in my high tops, but I managed to pass, with a lot (and I mean a lot) of practice.

Challenges and Triumphs

I would say one of the biggest challenges in this journey has been learning how to help solve people’s medical issues in 10 minutes. I would like to meet the person who decided that GPs are so super human as to listen to the patient’s problems, examine them and come up with a plan in 10 mins. I have somehow managed to achieve this now, but with a lot of past ‘Sorry I’m running late’ type of days.

One of my biggest triumphs has been developing fantastic communication skills and developing great relationships with my patients, because the process does empower you to become a people person, and to look at the patient holistically. I have then been able to use these skills to start my own business called Little Steps; a health education outfit, with the passion to empower parents/carers to help keep their children healthy. So, follow me on Instagram on @littlesteps_co ☺

I’d say become a GP if you’re interested in the patients’ story, if you want to see how they progress through life, and if you want to help them progress in the healthiest way possible.

I have learnt a lot in this specialty, because you get feedback on your decision by virtue of time, i.e. you get to see if Mrs Jones varicose eczema cleared up after the steroid cream you prescribed, or if she has something else going on. You can also get fantastic advice and knowledge from doctors from a variety of specialties because you’re forever writing referrals to or seeking advice from specialists ad reading their responses.

Some say we are jack of all trades and master of none, but I say a good GP is a master of building great relationships with their patients based on trust, and using that in combination with clinical knowledge to keep the local community well.

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