Friday, 13 December 2019

The Winning Poem

My first patient was dear old Santa
Who had lost all his jolly banter
He had turned to drink
And struggled to think
So I suggested sticking to fanta

I called in Mrs Claus
Who was struggling to find the cause,
She was flushy and hot
And was loosing the plot
We agreed it was menopause 

Next came a bunch of Elves,
They had piles from sitting on shelves,
They were tender and sore
And couldn’t take any more
I advised scheriproct to insert themselves 

Last came Rudolf the reindeer
He was lacking Christmas cheer
His nose was red
He wanted his bed
Self-care was the best idea

I'll see them all again next year!

Christmas Cheer at Group Work

Grampian GPSTs used the final session of Day Release of 2019 to experience the RCGP Capabilities in a new and different way.

With activities including tin foil modelling, a quiz, poem writing, jenga and charades the trainees demonstrated their skills in communication, community orientation, working with colleagues and fitness to practice.

The tin foil modelling was judged by TPD, Vicki Guthrie and the poems by TPD, Monica Milne.

With prizes for the winners of each activity, the trainees and group leaders also sported their Christmas Jumpers to rasie money for Save the Children.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

I recently came across these free to use podcasts created by GPnotebook.

They currently have three available but are continually adding new ones. 

I listened to two when in the car. Each one was 17minutes long, delivered by Dr Kevin Fernando, a GP working in Berwick and. Also known for his work with Hot Topics/NB medical. 

I hadn’t done CPD in this format before but these bite sized chunks of GP focussed education are really good and easy to fit a few in during your daily commute. I subsequently found out that NB medical have similar podcasts (

They can be downloaded using Spotify or the iTunes Store. I’ll definitely be using them again and would highly recommend!”

Dr Catherine Stone
Day Release Co-ordinator, Grampian Programme

Friday, 15 November 2019

Cream Horns - not on Highland Coos!

ST1s on the Grampian GPST programme were treated to cream horns made by one of their colleagues. I can hear the Bake Off calling!

Getting a STEP ahead

Yesterday, trainees and Educational Supervisors from the North, headed to a bright but chilly Edinburgh to join others from across the Scotland Deanery for the STEP course.

STEP (Scottish Trainee Enhanced Programme) is a full day event held twice a year in Scotland. STEP is targeted at International Medical Graduates. I ha been running since 2014 and offers trainees an early insight into challenges they might face in GP training within the UK. During the day, through workshops and small group discussions, trainees can explore their own strengths and weaknesses and gain insight into the predictors of success.

Aberdeen named best place to live and work in Scotland

The Granite City is now placed at number 6 in the Good Growth for Cities Index, beating other major Scottish cities Edinburgh at number 7 and Glasgow at number 24. 

Aberdeen scored highly on seven of the eleven measured indicators which include inequality, income, environment, skills, transport and jobs.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Moving to GP.....

I gave a talk a few months back to some 1st year medical students about careers in medicine. I told them that there are many ups and downs, twists and turns, and that no career is 100% straightforward. They were all politely disinterested until I said I was switching from Renal Medicine to General Practice. 

The temperature in the room dropped about 3 degrees.

If you’re unfamiliar with the sound of 50+ Phones and laptops suddenly going quiet it’s like crickets, then an eerie silence.

The first question I was asked in the Q+A that followed was simply “Why?”

I went directly from FY to CMT having written off GP as “boring” or “too simple”. Through the breathless training pathway that followed I struggled with the high workload and high pressure; in particular trying to fit in family life and the need for MRCP revision in only a 2 year time period (although IMT is now 3 I believe). I often felt isolated, lacking in a solid community of practice to bounce off of in times of stress.

The decision to move was a very personal one, with both push and pull reasoning.

I should add the training I received to that point was not the reasoning, but I never really “clicked” with the esoteric nature of renal medicine. I found myself gravitating towards the holistic, enjoying clinic environments over wards, and relished dealing with more “general medical” complaints - much to the chagrin of my trainers and consultants. The narrow focus of specialist consultation and practice began to frustrate me, more so than the usual work/life balance dilemmas. I decided late into my training (ST5), after an OOPE in Medical Education, that a change was in order. I thought back to my FY2 placement and saw GP in a different light.

At first I was apprehensive, as many of my colleagues and peers shared the same flabbergasted disbelief in my change of tack that the students portrayed. 

“Isn’t it a waste?”

“You’re so close, why not just finish?”

“You’re wasted there, you’ll just get bored”

It was amazing how the perception of GP in hospital differed from my later experiences. I contacted the GP training team (special thanks to Dr Vicki Guthrie) who were more than helpful in answering and queries or concerns I had.

Even from the very first days at induction, I was warmly introduced to both the team my peers and given clear outlines of my roles, responsibilities and representatives to contact. Our named and approachable individual trainers were understanding, flexible and fair with all questions and concerns – much more so than their hospital counterparts in my own personal experience. We were actively encouraged to network within our peer group, even being encouraged to facilitate peer group learning sessions and social events.

In practice, I have found GP to be a varied mix of cases – from simple holistic, to psychosocial concerns, to complex “puzzle patients” wherein challenging co-morbid cases need unpicking. Despite my “experience” from being a Medical Registrar – I have

lots to learn!

All in all I’ve been a trainee in Aberdeen for 13 years now – from medical school to ST5, from Clinical Teaching Fellow to GPST1. The benefit of working in the North-East, especially in GP training, are the opportunities on offer for both integrated City practice and remote and rural experience, the close links with under- and post-grad training, and the enthusiasm of the people that work here.

I wouldn’t recommend following my winding career path – but I would recommend the destination.

Dr David Wandless,

GPST1, Fyvie Oldmeldrum Medical Group

Friday, 20 September 2019

News from the far North....

GP specialist training on the Caledonian and Rural Track Programmes got off to a great start this year, aided and abetted by the RCGP North of Scotland Faculty. 

The induction sessions this year were fuelled by an RCGP sponsored lunch and words of wisdom from Dr Miles Mack. An interesting interlude to a day packed full of information and learning and a kick start to the GPST year ahead. 

Great involvement from the local RCGP North of Scotland Faculty with offers of support for future social, educational and career development events.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

ST2 and ST3 Inductions

Over the past 2 weeks we have welcomed back our ST2 and ST3 trainees at their inductions.

Fueled by home baking the ST3s had a split induction, in the first session reviewing the WPBA requirements for ST3 including the new prescribing assessment and OOH competencies and in the second meeting with a local CSA examiner to talk about the exam and even having a go at writing some CSA questions of their own.

The ST2s started their morning with an introduction to the AKT, having a chance to discuss their ICE with ST3 colleagues who had passed the AKT exam before having a go at a 50 question sample paper. This was followed by an opportunity to discuss exam technique and resources before a whistle stop tour through ST2 including the importance of practice keeping in touch days.

Both groups met over lunch to share their experiences and build the Grampian GPST community.

Friday, 30 August 2019

ST1 Induction

Last week we welcomed the new ST1 trainees to GP training on the Grampian programme. With trainees coming from as far afield as Canada and Sudan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine it was a very multi-national, multi-cultural day.  From the ice breaking getting to know you bingo, home bakes with coffee and end of day quiz it was a busy but fun filled day. Trainees were given an opportunity to meet with each other and the deanery team. There was time to explore the WPBA requirements and the 'ICE' of GP training. The feedback was excellent. We are looking forward to welcoming back the ST3s this week.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Traditional sounds with a twist - Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey

If you like traditional sounds with a twist this concert will be perfect for you. These old friends and award winning musicians are being brought together for a concert in Braemar.

Tim (guitar, melodeon), is brilliant - in every which way. As a guitarist he has few peers. As a box player he's a magician. As a character he's "off the scale" (Colin Irwin, fRoots).

Ross, one of Scotland's finest traditional musicians and composers (pipes, whistle, cittern) is an acclaimed soloist and collaborator. Check out his version of AC/DCs Thunderstruck from Aberdeen Musical Hall.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Work begins on new Baird Family Hospital and ANCHOR Centre

Construction work on the new Baird Family Hospital and ANCHOR Centre, both of which will open in 2022, is underway.

The new developments at the Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen will enhance the provision of clinical care, offering a patient-centred care environment and also include research and teaching facilities.

The Baird Family Hospital will house Maternity, Neonatal, Reproductive Medicine, Breast and Gynaecology services, as well as a Patient Hotel. The ANCHOR Centre brings together Haematology, Oncology and Radiotherapy Services under one roof and will link to the existing Radiotherapy centre. There will also be a lounge for teenage/young adult patients and an aseptic pharmacy.

Choose GP training in the North and you could be working in one of these new state-of-the-Art buildings.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Highland Games Highlights

Whether you enjoy the skirl of the pipes as the massed pipes and drums take to the show ground, enjoy watching caber tossing and hammer throwing in the strong events or seeing the highland flings and sword dances, the Highland Games season is well underway here in the North.

With recent games around the city and shire already attracting thousands of visitors, August plays host to the Ballater Highlands Games and Lonach Gathering, with the Braemar Gathering, whose patron is Her Majesty the Queen, following in early September.

All within easy striking distance of both Aberdeen and Inverness you could be there if you choose GP Training in the North.

Friday, 2 August 2019

BBC Scotland behind the scenes at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital

Embedded video

Want to see inside RACH, one of Scotland's busiest hospitals and where you could work during your GP Training?

Check out the video link to the TV promo:

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Aberdeenshire Staycation

So, why should you want live and work in the North of Scotland?

I've spent the last fortnight on leave from work on my first proper Staycation and what a fortnight it's been! 

We decided to become tourists in our own back yard and explore all that the North East has to offer,and we've discovered just how much is out there and it's made us fall in love with this area all over again.

Our holiday started on a gorgeous warm summer evening with open air theatre trip at Pitmedden Gardens to see David Walliam's Gangsta Granny. Then we headed into the wilderness for a walk round Loch Muick with a stop for ice creams from Ballater on the way home.

We had walks round Crathes and Drum Castles, made our way up Bennachie visiting three of the peaks, walked to Hackley Bay from the tiny fishing village of Collieston, lit a fire on the beach to cook marshmallow S'mores and braved the North Sea for an evening swim. 

We saw seals in the Ythan Estuary and walked from here to the beautiful golden sands at Forvie. We went to the Haddo Estate and round the forest walks at Formartine's and headed north to Aden Country Park to see the ruined Mansion house and try milking cows on the 1950s farm.

Then we made for the Cairngorms stopping at Dufftown en route to see the waterfalls and the Giants Chair before arriving at Badaguish near Aviemore for a couple of nights Glamping in a wig-wam. We walked round Loch Morlich, body boarding and swimming in the Loch to cool off. Our final walk was up to the Green Lochan where the dog enjoyed a swim! 

We also crammed in trips to the cinema and circus and another outdoor theatre experience watching Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. 

Been back at work for three days now but still inspired to do more exploring round this amazing area and looking forward to revisiting some of these fabulous places and exploring more of what the North has to offer.

Dr Jenny Craig
Associate Adviser, NES, Aberdeen

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mental Health Teaching at Fyrish Monument

As part of our GP training we have Day Release groups which meet monthly and are composed of a mixture of trainees from different locations across the North of Scotland and at different stages of training. Since this was our last meeting together as a group before the ST3s fly the nest we decided to spend our morning session climbing up Fyrish Monument, near Alness in Easter Ross. The topic of the day was Mental Health and we tied this in to discuss ways of building resilience and looking after our own mental health.

Fyrish Monument was built in the 18th century by Sir Hector Munro during the time of the Highland Clearances and was built mainly to keep locals in useful work as they were being cleared off their land which they had worked on for centuries before. It was built to resemble the Gate of Negapatam in India, which Sir Hector captured for the British. As you may see from the picture it has great views over the North East coast and was a decent workout in typically sunny Highland weather!

Doing GP training in the North of Scotland provides so many opportunities to experience the outdoors and it was a great experience walking together whilst discussing how important it is to look after ourselves - and each other as colleagues - just as well as our patients. Day Release groups are an important way of discussing any difficulties in our lives as GPSTs in what can sometimes feel like a very independent career. It is also a great way of making friends and, as this day showed, help us appreciate the many benefits of living and working in the North of Scotland.

Dr Calum Hutchens, 
ST1, Aviemore Medical Practice

Monday, 3 June 2019

Desert island debacle

Having persuaded my parents to come and visit me I felt it was only fair to introduce them to another island and so on Saturday morning we jetted off on the 15 minute journey to North Ronaldsay, Orkney's most northerly island (human population around 70 according to Wikipedia; permanent home to seaweed eating sheep, temporary home to various migratory birds). Sadly the clouds meant we couldn't see Fair Isle or Shetland from the top of the lighthouse, but I did get my first ever viewing of the Eurovision Song Contest that evening back at the bird observatory. I also managed a lovely swim with about 10 seals on Sunday morning, who curiously followed me up and down the bay for 20 minutes or so.

It's always good to sample true island life though - so as we gathered to wait for our 8 seater plane (the airport staff get a 5 minute warning from Kirkwall when it takes off so they can hurry over from their other jobs) a heavy mist obscured more and more of the view. Engine sounds came and went... and came and went... We all popped out to guess which direction the pilot was trying to approach from, and listened to the ground staff as they radioed with him... and he made one final attempt before conceding to the fog and taking his passengers back to Kirkwall - at which point the skies opened up and we enjoyed a beautiful clear evening! Such are the vagaries of island weather.

Then began a waiting game... New flights were organised - and cancelled by fog. Twice. The various guests leapfrogged each other on waiting lists as we tried to get back to mainland Orkney; and the parents got to experience island medicine as we begged, borrowed or stole some of their more important supplies from the nurse practitioner for the island (one diabetic on her books; and no acute hospital referrals in the last 2 years!) Meanwhile I fitted in another swim in Nouster Bay - just a couple of seals for company, but I managed to sneak in a photo with one of them. 

I finally flew out on Tuesday morning bumping my parents off the morning flight onto the afternoon ferry (no mercy - I had to get to our workshop in the Western Isles!) and they made it back to my house that evening to enjoy a quiet few days without me!

Dr Alison Lievesley, GPST, Rural Track Programme

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Become a GPST in the only place in the UK to feature in the Lonely Planet Top Ten!

Shetland has been named as one of the top 10 destinations in Europe. It is the only UK place to feature - at number six - in the new Lonely Planet list for international travellers this summer.

It's a wonderful life! Aberdeen medical students enabled to shadow Grampian GPSTs

I was delighted to help run the GP Trainee Shadowing Pilot this year for our second year medical students. The students came out to a variety of practices in their own time to undertake a half day shadowing a GP trainee here in Grampian.

The feedback from our students was really positive and they really appreciated the opportunity to gain some hands on experience, learn from near-peers and get a taster of real life GP! These positive early experiences in medical school really do make a difference and will hopefully help to promote general practice as a speciality.

It was amazing to see so many of our GP trainees ready to help and get involved and they really enjoyed the chance to build on their teaching and mentoring skills. A really exciting time for both the postgraduate GP training team and undergraduate University of Aberdeen community medical education teams and a great opportunity to work together!

Dr Mary Duffy
Career Start GP (Undergraduate Medical Education)
NHS Grampian

Friday, 10 May 2019

Speed Dating for ST3s

As ARCP draws ever closer and CCT in August starts to loom, the question of what to do when GP training is over begins to occupy the mind of an ST3.

The answer it turns out is speed dating between GPST3s and local practices looking for doctors. Ably organised by Rod Sampson, we had 6 minutes at each stall in either ones or twos. There was great variety in people attending – NHS Grampian, Wick, Thurso, Taynuilt, Alness, Beauly and Inverness. Some had baking, surfboards and even gin to entice us in. There were also other options such as Forensics, Out of Hours, Returner, Retainer and Career Start GPs and introduction to RCGP First 5 group to cushion the loss of GPST day release!

It was an intense afternoon but so helpful to see a variety of what is out there after CCT and in making some good links for the future.

Thanks again to Rod and NES for organising!

Dr Catriona Jones, ST3, Caledonian Programme