Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Life As A Fort William GP

Whoever said General Practice was “boring” ?!  I have been doing it for 35 years in the Highland town of Fort William and I still enjoy life, medicine and the variety.  I am looking out of my consulting room window and I can see the summit of Ben Nevis.  Well not actually today – more like gorillas in the mist today.  I get a grandstand view of mountain rescue helicopters and the ski slopes at Nevis Range.  The Mountain Bike downhill World cup weekend is in 2 weeks time. A sort of Eco F1 for adrenalin junkies.

We are a “destination” for international outdoor sports but also international doctors.

Last year I visited the GP rural training clinics in Japan and then hosted a Japanese GPST3 which was a fascinating insight into cultural health and comparative health systems.  The Japanese have a “thing” about the Loch Ness monster and whilst en route to a research meeting Inverness  I saw it for the first time in 35 years of looking . This is no tall story , just look at the photo!

Last year in Tweeddale we had a visit from a Swedish General Practice team which was a wonderful way to understand another health system and last month I hosted a delegation of Norwegian GPs , so in the turmoil of the current debate on the NHS and general practice I have gained a ground level clinical view from Japan , Sweden and Norway by just sitting in my Highland consulting room with a view on the world.

Well, what about the locals then?  I had to remove a tick from a 5 year old child’s eyelid on Monday. Never done that before.

On Wednesday a patient proudly brought in his electric monocycle to show me and he insisted I had a go.  So yes, there I was teetering around my consulting room with my dubious sense of balance on an electric monocycle in the shadow on Ben Nevis.  I learnt what was important to him and not what is important to a NICE computer guideline on CVAs and whether or not he should be on which pills. He had to have the trust in me over many years  and I felt very humbled when I compared our lives as men of a similar age.

Today I am working on space research! Yes you did read correctly. I am part of a research collaboration on Lyme disease which is working towards a phone App with the European Space Agency to predict Lyme hot spots. I am doing the GP informatics and local community engagement. So when you wonder about the RCGP curriculum competency on “community orientation”; this is it in action.

Well what about life outside medicine? Well I do have one! My children and grandchildren live in Glasgow which is 2 hours drive. We are all off to Holland tomorrow for a family celebration. I share a Moody 35 Yacht with another GP and she is “in the water for the summer” with plans for a trip to Ireland in July.

I have never regretted my career choice of General Practice or my location in Fort William to view the world as doctor, educator and clinical scientist. I have to retire sometime........ so there is a golden opportunity for somebody at your stage coming up!

Dr James Douglas,

Jim is a GP in Fort William in the Tweedale Practice and also works 2 sessions per week as a Training Program Adviser for the North of Scotland GPST Program.  

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