There are lots of myths about general practice out there, especially in secondary care. So what is it really like?
"Consultants are smarter". No they are not. General practice is where the real challenge is. Balancing the complex multiple morbidity of our ever increasing elderly population and the demands of their many medical problems whilst involving them and taking their wishes into account can be a real challenge.
"GPs have a quiet life!" If only! One of the things our new trainees often comment on is how busy life in general practice can be.
"GP is 9-5" Not any more its not. Most GPs start at 8am when the surgery opens and are still there at 6pm when it closes. Whilst the vast majority opt out of providing on-call cover out with those hours it is not unusual to find us out at other times caring for palliative care patients. That said, in a recent email survey of GP Trainees and GPs in their first 5 years, the most frequently cited reason for choosing general practice was that the speciality is compatible with family life (76.6% of women and 63.2% of men).
"GPs just admit all difficult cases to hospital." Increasingly the complex cases are managed at home or in local community hospitals that are GP run. Many community hospitals have Xray facilities, can manage blood transfusions, intravenous infusions and medication etc and patients can require fairly intensive management.
"Consultants are the opposition" Only when it comes to recruiting the best trainees! The rest of the time we work closely together. We should never forget we are all playing for the same team, the NHS.