Most GPs work regularly in the NHS, but it’s becoming increasingly common for doctors to seek opportunities to complement their clinical practice. There’s a huge spectrum of opportunity. Dr Jessica Howitt writes about some of the most popular choices.
Most doctors will have teaching experience, whether it’s teaching medical students on placement, or junior doctor colleagues on the ward. GPs can develop this further by becoming vocational GP trainers. The GP must have been qualified for two years and gained either a postgraduate certificate in education or have attended an intensive residential course. They will then be responsible for the education and training of a doctor specialising in General Practice.
Other teaching options include working at a local medical school as a GP tutor or examiner.
Many GPs like to develop an area of special interest alongside their work as a GP. For example, you could be a GP with a special interest in Women’s Health or Mental Health. As well as being the clinical lead in your practice, you may be able to offer specialist clinics in the community or work alongside hospital consultants in a secondary care setting. These roles will become increasingly common over the next few years, with current plans to move more secondary care services into the community.
All GP practices are members of a local clinical commissioning group, which were set up in 2013 and make decisions about the NHS services which will be available in the local area. GPs can take up a variety of positions within a CCG, such as sitting on the board of advisors or developing and improving local guidelines and services.
There are several online GP consulting companies which offer online GP services for both NHS and private patients, and they’re due to become even more popular over the next few years. These services allow GPs to consult from home, either via a video or telephone consultation. This is an increasingly popular option for doctors who need to balance work with family life.
If you fancy having a break from patients completely, then medical writing is a good option. Given the extensive knowledge of medicine and healthcare that GPs have, their expertise is highly sought after in the media. If you want to focus on academic science writing, then journals are always looking for contributors, or you could write for online websites, blogs or magazines.
For the more adventurous doctors, there’s endless opportunities to travel and work as an expedition doctor. Whether it’s accompanying a team as the supporting medic up Mount Kilimanjaro, joining a school group on a 12- week jungle expedition, or working in a rural clinic in Africa for 6 months, the options are endless. Some of these opportunities may not be paid, but the experience often makes up for it!
Working as a GP can offer you an interesting and diverse career, well beyond the realms of clinical practice alone. With the planned structural changes in the NHS, the opportunities are only going to increase, offering GPs a more varied career than ever before.
Words: Dr Jessica Howitt
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