When and what made you decide you wanted to be a GP?
Throughout medical school and up to my foundation years, I had no idea what specialism to choose from. What I did know was that I liked a little bit of everything in medicine and I would like to be in a job with face-to-face communication. I was heavily involved in volunteering in a children's charity at University (now known as CARAS), and considered specialising in Paediatrics but all possibilities were very open.
After working a very busy first foundation year, and then an A&E post in F2, I suddenly became unwell and was diagnosed with cancer. This completely changed my life and outlook with the decision whether to even complete speciality training but I knew it was the right decision to go on.
I took a few months off work to go through treatment and recovery and found myself on a phased return back to work in a GP practice (my first ever placement) Wrythe Green Surgery in Carshalton. The GPs there were incredible and truly inspirational. I observed and learnt with fascination how they communicated with each other and the patients, and how they treated me – with such kindness, support and patience. I realised then that the teamwork and community they built with each other was something I would like to do and be part of in my future.
During my time off work, I discovered the practice of yoga which I became increasingly passionate about. I truly believe the importance of looking after the self and each other and listening to the mental and physical body. What yoga had taught me was something I also wanted to share with others so I soon trained as a yoga teacher. This was very easy alongside a GP vocation which is not only common place for portfolio careers but I found I could use my experience as a teacher to holistically work with my patients as well.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone considering general practice?
I would definitely recommend experiencing a placement for a least a few weeks to see all sides of the job to be able to weigh up the correct decision for yourself. I would also recommend working or shadowing a GP in an out of hours and urgent care setting to see what other working options you have. If you have other passions alongside medicine, don't give them up!
What is your proudest achievement in general practice or voluntary work?
I feel so grateful to be able to learn from yoga teachings and be able to use this in general practice to treat all patients holistically. I promote a lot of self-care, exercise and nutrition advice (knowledge gained from my intercalated Nutrition BSc) to my patients and over this last year I have helped three patients loose over 20kg in weight.
I have taught complimentary yoga classes and given talks at various events in 2017 including the BMA Junior Members Forum, HEE for the London GP Trainee Conference and the Alternative Careers and Wellbeing for Doctors event. Another event recently with the RCGP was to practice and teach mindfulness to a group of GPs in Newcastle. The GPs were very interested to hear the science behind mindfulness and admitted that they were tired at work but practicing mindfulness may be a solution to help. After hearing these reactions, I am even more motivated and dedicated to promoting wellness for all healthcare professionals. The feedback for all events has have been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to continue sharing as much as I can.
What do you love most about being in general practice?
I love building relationships with the local community and watching baby bumps grow up into young children! I love being able to help people on a level which can directly impact patient's future health and the constant learning and intellectual stimulation in medicine. I love the flexibility of the job so I can continue to teach and practice yoga.
About the writer
Dr Ly Anh Duyen Dang is a GP at Woodfield Road Medical Centre in London. She studied at St George's, University of London and her special interests are yoga, mindfulness and meditation, nutrition and wellness.
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