Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Work / Life Balance!

In life it is so important to find that balance between one's professional life and life outside medicine, whatever that may include.   James Tullie is a trainee on our 4 year Caledonian rotation.  He is combining his GP training with trying to qualify for the 2015 World Orienteering Championships that are to take place in Moray and Highland  in August 2015.  Here is his take on training in the North of Scotland.

"If you are considering GP training and can look beyond inner city practice, then I would highly recommend the north of Scotland. The following spiel describes my experiences which may help sway you either way!

I originally grew up on a farm in the borders (so maybe was always destined for rural life). I studied medicine in Edinburgh then did foundation jobs in Stirling and Glasgow. I enjoyed both but felt the need to move out of the city and the north training programme really appealed to me for several reasons. 1. the location. I do a lot of outdoor sports predominately orienteering and running as well as cycling so the highlands were a big draw. 2. The medicine. I was keen on the challenge of rural practice and the variety that I thought it could offer beyond inner city practice.

I am on a 4 year programme, with the first year in Oban then the following three split between Grantown-on-Spey and Inverness.

Year 1 in Oban

I really enjoyed my year in Oban working in the Lorne and Isles District General. I did 6 months of general surgery and six months of general medicine. The great advantage of working in Oban is the ability to work with a small team where you get to know everyone and are an integral part of the team. There were 3 consultants in each speciality and one staff grade but no registrars. Hence when things happened the chances are you were heavily involved and really got to follow patients through on their whole time in hospital. Some days admittedly it could be quiet but over the course of the year I saw a great variety of conditions and had to deal with a lot of different situations. At night you were the only doctor on site so had to deal with anything that came through the door. Daunting? Maybe, but the consultants were always easily approachable on the phone and nurse practitioners were very supportive. Great experience for GP - do I need to treat and investigate this overnight, or will it be safe until the morning?

To give a flavour some of the things that stick in my mind were: thrombolysing STEMIs, ruptured AAAs, Infected AAAs, Resuscitating and operating on a young woman with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy as main assistant, being heavily involved in arrest situations, reducing dislocated ankles, manipulating broken wrists. I could go on.. but it wasn't always the dramatic things. There were also complex cancer patients who you may have broken the news to and saw on several occasions and some great west coast characters (think man in his 70s with a broken hand who had never taken a tablet in his life! not one. Not even a paracetamol)

Oban was also great for the outdoors. If climbing mountains, orienteering, cycling or kayaking is up your street then there was lots to do. I can't lie did rain a lot!

Year 2 In Inverness

Year 2 was first spent in Raigmore, Inverness doing 6 months of A&E. It was a good department to work in. Busy but a small enough team that meant you got to know everyone well with very supportive consultants. I gained a lot of experience dealing with trauma off the hills and roads and cardiac arrests down to grazed knees and most things in between.

My GP practice is in Grantown on Spey and I'm lucky enough to be there for 6 months then back for a year. It serves a population of around 5200 spread out over quite a large geographical area. As well as the practice there is a small community hospital attached to it with a minor injuries unit. This means a good variety of work from "normal" GP consultations, to rural home visits, to stitching up wounds and dealing with unwell ward patients. They also do minor surgery and have physio and optometrists site - all very useful. The GPs are all BASICS trained and during the day the practice is also on call as a first responder who can be called on by the ambulance service. This included attending a motorcyclist who was badly injured after crashing down a heathery bank - not your average day in the surgery! 

Benefits of the location (not forgetting the orienteering, running and cycling) include the ability to leave work on your half day and be on the piste skiing at Cairgorm in 30mins. Hard to beat! (if you're into that sort of thing!)

This year I am back up in Inverness doing psychiatry, orthopaedics and paediatrics - a good variety of experience.  Next year I'll be back in Grantown and am lucky enough to have been accepted for part time training in a bid to make the team for the orienteering world champs in 2015. Here's hoping.

So north of Scotland GP training...sold yet? If you are dead set on inner city practice in the south then it may not be for you but if you fancy something a bit more exciting then I'd highly recommend the north of Scotland. The quality and variety of the medicine is great and the patients on the whole are too. If you are into outdoor sports or the outdoors in general then I don't think there's anywhere better in Britain.

If you take nothing else from this then at least I'll have managed to mention orienteering a few times. give it a go!

James Tullie"

In the North of Scotland we are keen to support you not just in your general practice career but also in life outside medicine, whether that be in becoming a world class orienteer, or simply in starting your family.

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