Usually its 4 year long package, but can be reduced to 3 ½ (if you lose the OOPE – out of practice experience), my training will however be 4 ½ years as I’m planning for a year in Africa. Some people might be put off by the extra time, but it gives you longer to pass the exams and I think more experience in training will only make you a better GP. Personal things do happen, and we’re lucky to have a very understanding deanery.
GPs in Scotland (I think) have more options than GPs in England, I am very interested in the role of RPs (rural practitioners) that provide an A+E service in some of the rural hospitals, I have already made a good network of doctors in this field and as such know how to get the most out of my training to prepare for this. I have already completed ALS, ATLS, PILS, NILS, 2 x Basics (Pre hospital care) courses, and am lining up for a TEAMS (intubation and RSI) course next year. My next 3 GP placement days will include a day with the contraception nurse, a day with the ambulance service and a day in the rescue helicopter.
I also know many other doctors that have interests in Diving Medicine, Mountain rescue, Coastguard and even Dolphin Rescue (... if that’s your thing!).
The main attraction for me would be that as a rural GP in Scotland you’re a real part of the community, and can provide a good service to those needing it. Continuity of care seems to be easier to achieve than in the rest of the UK which is the real charm of the job.
The community life is wonderful. It’s still possible to hitch a lift up here (why can’t you do this in England?). Once I was offered a lift and in the first 15 minutes, was offered Sunday lunch, an invitation to church and also to meet the guy’s daughter. I also think it’s very funny when the ferry gets cancelled due to bad weather, and every one panic buys as if nuclear war was about to break out! (...my sense of humour is weird). I would suggest an ability to mix in outside of the job is very important, (...for me, this is fiddling).
This aside – life is relaxed, and the staff up here reflect this (most of the time!). Some of your time will be spent at Raigmore Hospital Inverness, not perfect, but a very friendly place to work in. At least you won’t be on a picket line, as no one is trying to impose any contract in Scotland.
Rural Scotland isn't the most lively of places all the time. If your idea of heaven is an afternoon shopping followed by a visit to the theatre, then this probably isn't for you. But, we have the famous Heb Celt festival, Up Helly Aa, Belladrome, The Feis and the less famous music sessions at the Criterion Pub (Stornoway) which equals sessions anywhere in the world.
If your passion is the outdoors then you should have applied already!
A balanced view must include everything, and as much as I love the outdoors, the weather is usually bad to very bad, and on occasion dangerous. The A+E rota at Raigmore isn't life friendly (but where is?) and the reflection aspect of the GP portfolio doesn't suit me.
However, the rural track program is still a very good package, I have met people who I’ll probably keep in touch with the rest of my life. It allows you to play a real part in a real community, and also provides an insight to some of the more adrenaline charged branches of being a GP.
In short – medicine, with a twist.
(See you soon?)