Emma Smith

What is your current role – what was your path to get here?
I am a seven session GP partner in a busy practice in Inverness city centre. I started off my career down the path of general medicine, gaining a place on a medical rotation in Glasgow for nearly 2 years before I applied to do General Practice. I had always loved general medicine and was sure it was the career for me. I completed my MRCP exams and worked for a few years in hospital until I finally realised I was looking for something else, and that general medicine wasn’t quite fulfilling what I was looking for. So I decided to apply to the GP training scheme and felt the highlands would be a great place to do so. I had a friend who had trained here recommended it to me, not only for the quality of teaching and breadth of experience available, but also as a positive lifestyle choice. After completing training I worked as a locum around Inverness to gain experience and work in different practices before applying for a partnership. I felt ready to take on a different role and different responsibilities.

What does your role involve?
I do 7 sessions a week which involves a variety of work including normal surgeries, covering triage, duty doctor sessions and attending to any emergencies that may present. House visits are done each day for acute problems and many routine reviews or seeing palliative patients. I am involved in our practice diabetic team and also involved in helping run some commercial research the practice does plus being part of our pharmacy development team. Being so early on in my general practice career, I’ve yet to find a true ‘special interest’ but definitely feel my passion for general medicine continues and I have brought that knowledge and experience with me in to this role. Our practice is heavily involved in education, so I am often teaching or supervising learners which is really rewarding. In addition to this, I dedicate additional time to my partnership role which involves many different aspects of work such as working with the practice manager and staff, training and also developing systems in the practice to try and improve efficiency and patient care.

What influenced your decision to be a GP?
As mentioned, I had been certain that hospital medicine was the career choice for me. Even though I found the work incredibly interesting, I realised the cases I most enjoyed seeing were the ones that involved getting to know the patient, being holistic and providing good continuity of care. The world of hospital medicine seemed so fast paced and the high patient turnover made me feel that I was often treating the disease rather than the person. I spent time chatting to friends and colleagues who were GP training, and also took the time to do some shadowing and work experience in a practice in Inverness. This really opened my eyes to the profession and helped make my decision.

What do you think about your career now?
I’m really happy I spent time in another speciality first as have brought that experience to my current role. General practice was the right decision for me. I enjoy the patient contact, the continuity and relationships that you are able to build with patients. The job is varied and interesting, and even though busy and stressful at times, working as part of a strong team is rewarding and can be great fun. General Practice has provided me with a greater work-life balance than what I had before, and training and working in the Highlands has been such a positive experience. It is a fantastic part of the world to both work and live. Inverness is a thriving and expanding city but the geography means that the challenges to working as a GP here are quite different to elsewhere and you can gain experience in remote and rural medicine if desired.

What do you like most about your work?
Things I like most about my work are feeling part of a team. I missed that aspect of things when I took locum jobs and was definitely craving the stability and opportunity that partnership presents. I enjoy the variety of each day, not knowing what will come in through the door and the challenges this presents. I also love the fact that partnership means I can influence and change systems and the way we work to try and be more efficient or improve patient care.

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