Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Festive Farewell to 2017

Merry Christmas and all the best for a Happy and Healthy 2018 to all the readers of the North Scotland GP Training Blog.
Here's a story to add to the festive cheer and demonstrate the kindness of folks in the North.....

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Festive Feel to Day Release....

Trainees and group facilitators donned their Christmas jumpers in aid of Save the Children UK for the final GPST Group work session of 2017. The groups worked together at various stations meeting different GP competencies. A game of charades using non verbal communication demonstrated skills in this area, community orientation was explored with a quiz on Aberdeen and the local area and CEPS with a high pressure team Bop It session.

The final two stations included exploring the humanities with a 'Guess the Baby photo' competition and poetry writing...
A day off from work,
With tea & cake,
Pick up your fork
Enjoy what we bake.
Discuss our problems,
In therapy sessions,
To say what we've done
A big group confession.
A mixture of cultures,
Bringing knowledge and fun,
Hungry like vultures,
But only 'til one!
And a Team working session involving modelling a GP Christmas Scene out of Tin Foil.

We look forward to welcoming the trainees back in 2018..
Caroline* came to stay for a few days this week, and added to the regular fun of island life. Schools were closed as she flooded roads, smashed bus windows and finally deposited a load of icy snow on top of us with the delicate help of some 70mph winds.
Of course I was working. No wave watching for me (actually I tried when the winds were at their highest, but you couldn't see far enough to appreciate it properly...) No swimming either - hope my wimping out doesn't disappoint anyone! Coordinating the transfer of a patient off island while wind and snow also makes its way south, freezing airport runways on the way turns out to be interesting but ultimately manageable. I'm hoping my friend will blog about the fun she had on the same day, so I won't steal her thunder - but if she doesn't I'm going to claim her story as mine and tell it to you later.

My story is from another week: Caroline hadn't yet reared her head, so at least we didn't have that logistical headache to contend with. We did however have a child with a significant overdose on a Sunday afternoon.

The hospital in Orkney doesn't have the capacity to look after children: anyone we're worried about is discussed with paeds in Aberdeen and transferred down there if admission is needed. If someone is needing higher level care the retrieval team will pick them up in the hospital; otherwise the regular air ambulance will collect them at the airport from one of our local ambulances. So far so simple.
However, if they need any kind of intervention running, they can't be taken by the air ambulance paramedic without medical or nursing support - we've previously paused non-time-essential infusions for the duration of the transfer to facilitate this - and if, say, the runway at Aberdeen happens to be closed overnight for repairs the transfer suddenly involves a diversion to Lossiemouth and an extra 1 1/2-2 hour land ambulance transfer.

So this became my first air ambulance transfer. NAC running. Pickup due after 8pm... after 9pm... Phone call from air ambulance: pickup due after 1.15am... But if we wait until 4am, we can fly you straight in to Aberdeen and avoid the land transfer, and you'd probably only arrive an hour later.
Since by this point all hopes of being put up in a plush hotel while waiting for my flight back had evaporated, I decided that the patient was safer leaving slightly later but not being stuck with me in the back of an ambulance on a winding road, and went for the delayed but direct transfer. All my efforts learning to program the syringe pump had been in vain: the 3rd infusion would already be running by the time we left (phew!) so I grabbed myself a free bed on the ward for a few hours, then enjoyed my first and second ever ambulance journeys and a trip on a tiny little plane that was amazingly quiet (and sadly no in-flight cup of tea!) before heading straight back to Orkney on the next flight up and back to my own bed after a rather longer day than planned! 

No two days are the same. No two swims are the same either. I had a lovely solo swim in Scapa Bay a couple of weeks ago with our friendly very local lifeguard, Rognvald the seal who looped the loop around me as I ploughed up and down, no doubt checking for signs of hypothermia and wondering why on earth I'm so slow. I'm starting to feel like I'm being unfaithful to him if I swim anywhere else... 

*I hope no one minds the confidentiality lapse - but Caroline was after all a major winter storm rather than a patient...
Dr Alison Lievesley, GPST Remote & Rural track Programme, based in Orkney

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Planning to train in Grampian? - fit aboot learning some Doric...

Check out this fabulous Doric Dictionary produced by The Robert Gordon University. A must for any future Grampian Trainee.

What do GP Trainees say about Group Work.....

Each year we ask our GP trainees for feedback from all aspects of the Grampian education programme including groupwork.  The feedback is greatly valued by the GP team at NES. We hope that current trainees and those contemplating GP training will find them helpful. Here are some comments collected in June 2017 . 

very helpful to hear other trainees talk about their challenges..makes you feel better knowing others encounter problems too” 
 a safe and confidential space to discuss problems and issues – professional and personal” 
open discussions including topics wider than purely clinical but important for day to day working” 
knowing that experienced GPs go through same as us” 
encouragement and support when someone struggling and feeling stressed etc” 
calming influence when things are not going your way” 
safe/confidential environment to discuss concerns” 
having opportunity to share/discuss difficult consultations etc with peers and also things that have gone well” 
hearing interesting cases from peers and think how would I approach it”

to get clear opinions about how to deal with difficult situations/patients” 
actually being able to learn from each other again no judgement, completely open format in which to debrief on     difficult/challenging situation” 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Enjoy a good murder? Granite Noir set to return to Aberdeen

The Granite Noir Crime Festival will return to Aberdeen in 2018, with headliners including authors Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid.
Organised by Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), the three-day event will run from 23-25 February.

Inaugural Group Facilitator Training Day - Inverness 15th November 2017

From bacon roles, lemons and back pockets to talking sticks and the Inverdeen Beekeepers Association, the inaugural group facilitator training day took place in the Centre for Health Science, Inverness on the 15th November.  A gathering of 15 group facilitators from across the North of Scotland met for a day of shared learning. 

The day provided time and space to share experiences and resources with colleagues and a forum to support, develop and strengthen the facilitator role. 

The collective enthusiasm and passion for supporting our trainee GPs and students in the North of Scotland in their group work was clearly evident.

Thanks to Dr Rod Sampson, TPD, Caledonian Programme, for organising and facilitating a very enjoyable and worthwhile event.

Dr Graeme Brown, GP Associate Advisor, Grampian Programme, NES, Aberdeen

Friday, 10 November 2017

North Region Trainers Conference

Last week saw North Region Educational Supervisors from Fort William to Forres, Oban to Oldmeldrum and Lerwick to Laurencekirk meet for their annual educational conference at the Newton Hotel in Nairn.

The 2 day event consisted of educational updates, inspirational talks and workshops covering a variety of topics including spirituality, IT in training, social media and realistic medicine.

A poetry session run by Dr Mark Taylor, GP and ES at Kingsmills Medical Practice in Inverness proved particularly popular, inspiring fellow GP and ES at Cove and Kincorth Medical Practice and GPST Group Work Facilitator at NES in Aberdeen, Dr Lynne MacKenzie to write the following piece....


I see your youth and your wish to live.
I hear your anger at your missed diagnosis.
I feel powerless!!

I see your wedding, an event that should be the beginning but this is almost the end.
I hear your resignation.
I feel powerless!!

I see your Mum in tears.
I hear her ask “ why couldn’t it have been me?”
I feel angry!!

I see your courage.
I hear your family asking me to “make you more comfortable “.
I feel I CAN do that.

I see your coffin lowered into the ground.
I hear silence.
I feel humbled!

I look at the trees and the sky and see SUCH beauty.
I will always treasure that.

North East 250 - route to rival North Coast 500!

A new driving route launched in north east Scotland is aiming to emulate the tourism success of the North Coast 500 in the Highlands.

The North East 250 circular route will take visitors through Speyside, the Cairngorms, Royal Deeside, Aberdeen, the east coast and Moray.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

RCGP Conference

The annual RCGP conference this year was down in the lovely Liverpool and was well represented from the North East of Scotland. The conference is attended by GPs from around the world coming together to share knowledge, ideas and go "forward together" (the theme of this years conference).

The event included large group talks in the auditorium from eminent college members, such as the charismatic Helen Stokes-Lampard (chair) talking about 'Enid shaped care' -  a gripping story about one of her elderly patients and how it was inappropriate to chase targets when it wouldn't improve her quality of life, and other inspirational people such as Sir Ian Smit, founder of the Eden Project, who told us to follow our dreams and think outside of the box!

There were clinical update sessions on a variety of subjects from diabetes to contraception, Level 3 child protection training and BLS and everything in between. There was discussion on consultation models and humour in the consultation and a huge area dedicated to exhibitors both of posters and of products and services.

There was plenty of caffeine and networking, discussing better and more efficient models of care  and there were also social events. Overall a very inspirational few days!

Don't worry if you missed this year because next year is in GLASGOW, so not nearly so far to travel - hope to see you there!

Dr Douglas Naismith, GPST3 Aboyne Medical Practice, RCGP AiT Wellbeing Lead, RCGP Scotland Recruitment Ambassador

Douglas Naismith - North East Scotland AiT Representative

Hi there, I am Douglas Naismith, GPST3 at Aboyne Practice in Aberdeenshire and North East Scotland AiT Representative.

In my AiT role I represent all GP trainees in the North East of Scotland at Local (faculty), Regional (Scottish) and National (London) RCGP meetings. I'm also the Wellbeing representative!

These meetings give me a great insight into how our college is structured and how it functions. I also get to meet lots of very interesting GPs with a vast variety of roles.

Recently I have also taken on a role as one of RCGP Scotland's Recruitment Ambassadors so I get to go to schools and the local University and tell students how amazing, varied and stimulating a career in General Practice can be...especially in the North East of Scotland!

GP Recruitment - NOW OPEN!!!

Applications for National Recruitment open today. If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging life long career get your application in before 30th November.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

From Sudan to Skara Brae......

Funny how things work out. A couple of months ago I finally woke up in hospital accommodation in Orkney. The sun was shining, the sea was inviting - and I was full of the excitement of being exactly where I wanted to be! I'd also just rediscovered an email I'd sent to another trainee to ask about the rural track program, in 2014.........sometimes it just takes me a while to make up my mind....

My winding journey has taken in heroin addicts and street kids in Hong Kong and China; village medics on the Thai-Burma border; a TB program in Sudan; Syrian & Yazidi refugees in Greece.... I've been a med reg and an infectious diseases reg; and I've bound it all up with a lot of swimming outdoors, some running & walking, and a few solid friends that I've met along the way. I started flirting with GP-land back on the Thai-Burma border 6 or 7 years ago, and our relationship went something like this:
"I'm abroad! Ooh, look at all the exciting variety of conditions. I should do GP so that I can understand a bit of everything"
"I'm home. What am I doing here, I should go abroad again!"
"I'm abroad. Ooh, lots of stuff. I'd be more useful if I was a GP"
"I'm in the UK. What am I doing here, I should go abroad again!"
And so on....
And so on....

Until finally the circle of life caught me in a pincer grip and wouldn't let me go until I'd bitten the bullet: that rural GP program that I'd somehow stumbled on and been intermittently considering for years would give me a GP qualification; I'd be able to play in various areas of medicine and still have fun with procedures; I'd have a home base in between stints of overseas work; and I'd be able to swim and run my way around an exciting archipelago.

So here I am, surrounded by Neolithic sites and open sea. I'm seeing almost as much pathology as I'd see in a city teaching hospital - only somehow it seems to be more concentrated! - as well as having to think not only about transfers off our Mainland to the Scottish mainland when necessary, but also about transfers from the outer islands (or, for that matter, cruise ships) into our hospital (and back again). I think I'll be staying!
Dr Alison Lievesley, GPST Remote & Rural track Programme, based in Orkney

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Why Career Start

There are many career paths for recently qualified GPs to take but unique to Grampian is the Career Start scheme.  For me the attraction of this post was the option of being able to gain experience working as a GP but also being able to develop a specialist interest alongside it.

Teaching and medical education is an area I have been interested in for some time, so career start has been the ideal opportunity to begin developing new skills in this area, while getting the chance to build on my GP skills learnt throughout training. 

It is a great opportunity for professional development and as a stepping stone for a versatile future career.

Dr Lorraine Sinclair, Career Start GP in Medical Education

Career Start Advert - Applications now Open!

Career Start GPs  
A one-year post 
PR 18395

An exciting opportunity to enhance and develop careers in 
General Practice, through an innovative and flexible scheme.
£ 70,034 (for a 40hr wk) pro rata subject to DDRB uplift 
Unscheduled Care Aberdeen 
Any combination of :GMED,A&E, Paed A&E –more than one post available 
Sexual health 
Ambulatory Emergency Care 
ENT * 
Academic GP 
Old Age Psychiatry * 
Paediatrics * 
Elderly Medicine/Frailty * 
Watch the promotional video at 

Posts are available part time or full time. 
The specialities with a * can be split -ie half a year in one and have a year in another 

Posts are for one year with a possible extension for a second year and take account of the latest health service priority areas, preparing GPs to meet the challenges of the changing working environments. Posts will be distributed throughout Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray.

You should be educated to MBChB or equivalent, fully registered with the GMC with a licence to practice, and hold your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) or equivalent.
Excellent communication skills, counselling and feedback skills are essential as well as the ability to travel to various locations. 

To apply:
· Register and log on to complete your application at
· You may apply for as many posts as you wish.  
· Indicate your choice of posts in order of preference- top 3. 
· Send your CV to
· Detail 3 objectives that you hope to achieve in the Career Start year for your 1st choice speciality/post

Please indicate in a covering letter the following 4 points:
· Whether you wish to be considered for any post if we are unable to offer you your preferred choice(s).
· Whether there are any posts, which you would not wish to be considered for.
· If you wish to work part-time (indicate number of sessions). 
· At least one post will be in Elgin- please indicate whether you are happy to work in this area

For further information, contact
Closing date Wed 16th Nov 17.
Successful applicants will be expected to start in post from Feb 2018 for 1 year though start date can be flexible.