Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Life as a Less Than Full Time Trainee in Grampian

Despite having heard of nothing but positive experiences/feed back from previous less than full time trainees (LTFTTs) it was still with some trepidation that I made the phone calls to my trainer and the deanery to tell them I was pregnant. However any anxiety I had was very quickly laid to rest when I got nothing but a positive response, everyone seemed genuinely happy for me and I was quickly and efficiently guided through the process of applying for maternity leave, less than full time training and all the other necessary bits and pieces.

I fell pregnant half way through my hospital year. I was unfortunately a little unlucky with fairly debilitating migraines and because of these I was signed off sick a few times and had to be taken off on call and out of hours shifts. I felt absolutely awful about this and the impact it would have on my other colleagues, but the hospital team were very supportive and accommodated this (along with antenatal classes/midwife appointments etc) without any hassle at all, which was an enormous relief.

When my daughter was about 6 months old I returned to work 3 days a week (I later changed to 3.5). I was going straight back into practice as I had finished the hospital part of my training. This was a big adjustment at first and it took us a good few weeks, plenty of tears and lots of deep breaths before I finally felt in control.

Working less than full time is definitely not the easy option and there are a lot of things that are very challenging. The main difficulty is time management. I always knew this was a major component of general practice, but combining it with parenthood brought a whole new dimension! The mornings are a big challenge-it doesn't matter how organised you are, getting out the house on time without snot/toothpaste/porridge/vomit/pee etc etc on you is a massive achievement. I have now recognised this and congratulate myself when I leave nursery on time rather than chastise myself when I'm running a little late, otherwise you risk starting (most!) days off on the wrong foot. The main struggle later in the day is admin, the problem with being part time is that you can’t leave it until the ‘next day’, because your next day could be days away. So there’s definitely a pressure to get everything done, and this generally means doing it in my own time and leaving a little late.

Negatives aside there are a lot of really great things about working part time and particularly doing training part time. I guess the main thing that persuaded us to have a child during training was the financial security of the training post and having a job (that was flexible) to come back to. Throughout this whole process the deanery and HR were incredible supportive and flexible. I got to choose the percentage I worked (this is not true of all Scottish deanerys!) and was even able to change this a few months later. Out of sync individual inductions/meetings and ARCPanels were all arranged with ease. All in all the deanery could not have been more supportive. It’s probably because of this that there are so many of us ‘part-timers’ about!

The other great thing about working LTFT during training is that it has really taught me what my priorities are and has made it very clear to me what I'm going to want to work when I come out of training. I find this quite reassuring as I now have more direction and focus than I had before I started a family. Finally and most importantly I get to spend a whole lovely midweek day with my daughter, doing whatever we like. I've made a very concerted effort not to think about work on this day and (most of the time) I'm successful.

All in all I would definitely recommend LTFT training in Grampian. I love my profession as a GP and I love my role as a Mum. The Grampian deanery have been massively supportive and flexible (something that is sadly not true of all deanerys and specialities) which has made combining parenthood and professional life as easy as it can be. I chose to do general practice because I loved the job and the variety it offers, the fact that it is flexible and suits family life is an added bonus that cannot be ignored!

Jenny Cusack, GPST3 Aboyne

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