is a part time general practitioner in the UK National Health Service, a spare time RCGP Clinical Fellow in Perinatal Mental Health, and a full time mum…doing overtime!
Despite all the pressures, challenges and daily frustrations of working in the NHS, I still feel being a General Practitioner in the UK is the best job in the world. Well, second best to being a mum to my incredibly fun and loving two young children. But which role is truly the more challenging? Those who have children will know instantly what I am talking about and those without may well know from friends that this question has serious ground for debate. Despite 13 years of further professional development in the form of continued education, assessment and appraisal since leaving Southampton Medical School, there are many difficult moments I deal with as a mum where I feel as unsure and inexperienced as any other parent. People often generously assume that of all health professionals, medics in particular will know what to feed their fussy baby, how to discipline their child in front of the grandparents and what to do when their “spirited” toddler throws a tantrum in a supermarket. I write to correct this misconception. ...continue reading →
Amanda Howe is Professor of Primary Care at the University of East Anglia in Norwich - one of the newer medical schools in the U.K. She is also a GP, Vice Chair of Council at the RCGP, and President-Elect of the She writes here in a personal capacity.
When I starting out as a junior researcher, the big fight was to get primary care research into the universities and the big national and charitable funding streams. The first professor of general practice took up post in 1962, and by 1992 when I became a lecturer, most medical schools had a department of general practice (‘family medicine’ in other countries). But all my seniors still talked as if they were fighting an uphill battle – treated as a minority group, outsiders, less powerful, less well funded, and with a tide to turn against the biomedical ‘lab to bedside’ paradigm.
20+ years on, I am not sure whether that victim voice still needs to be heard. There are some amazing big research units now in U.K. – the School of Primary Care’s member departments all punching above their weight, far more applied funding going into primary care and epidemiological work via the National Institute for Health Research, and medical schools being complemented by nursing and allied health units with excellent track records of their own research.
But some medical schools have put their GP teachers into medical education departments, and made their GP researchers a small part of a ‘big’ health services research unit. And others try to establish a research profile and national/international impact with fewer than 2 full-time academic GPs (my own unit). My ‘Primary Care Group’ also contains brilliant bright colleagues from public health, health economics, sociology and ethics – and the university sees this as a good mixture for applied methods research - but it is not much capacity for clinical work, research, teaching, and academic leadership.
is a general practitioner in London, UK, and a NIHR In Practice Research Fellow at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
, a young doctor with cancer, recently wrote a book called ''. It's a book for doctors ‘to be better able to understand exactly what being the patient is really like …” Other medical writers have also been motivated by the shocking realisation that medical education and clinical practice had taught them so little about what it’s like to be a patient, the particular problems that doctors themselves have in coping with illness and the health risks associated with their profession; loss of identity, shame and stigma, the need to be treated as a person and an acute awareness of mistakes were common themes of narratives.
Inspired by their stories, I have been leading teaching seminars with medical students, GP trainees, GP trainers, GP retainers, medical humanities students and and learned a few more lessons along the way.