Growing up in a medical family, you might imagine that I had a childhood of waiting around in after-school clubs or not having my whole family together at Christmas time, but this was far from the reality. Both my parents trained as GPs and, looking back, they always made it to key life events and I always had someone to take my siblings and I to school and pick us up on time. These simple tasks may seem trivial to some but any medic will tell you that balancing a family life and a career in medicine is far from simple. Yet, my parents managed it.
Currently on a surgical job, I see my registrars and even consultants struggle to maintain the balance so many crave. With late on-call shifts and nights on the rota, balancing sleep, family time and work seems a tough task, let alone time to do things they enjoy.
You have the scope to pave the path you choose
As the daughter of GPs, I’ve been able to see the various paths you can venture down; my Dad for example, stayed mainly in practice but works with the General Medical Council, acts as an examiner for the RCGP and teaches at the local medical school. All of these endeavours keep him busy whilst allowing him to maintain his passion for general practice.
My Mum, on the other hand, trained as a GP but ventured into occupational medicine and is now heavily involved with the local medical school. Although she has less patient contact, she finds the flexible hours and teaching and assessment focus of her role rewarding and more suited to her lifestyle. Both these paths highlighted to me how broad a career in general practice can be and how you have the scope to pave the path you choose.
In contrast, I was particularly drawn by the business side of general practice. Having always had a business mind-set, the thought of having more control over partnerships, assets and earnings appeal strongly to me. I have been fortunate in that a close friend of my parents was also this way inclined and seeing how he approaches his career has inspired me to take a similar approach in exploring the various avenues that a career in general practice can facilitate.
I want a career where I can make a lasting difference
I was very lucky throughout medical school, in that I was paired with a brilliant practice in Exeter where the team thrived in their environment and created a wonderful work setting for both the staff and the patients. The practice had a heavy emphasis on continuity of patient care and this went a long way with the patients and made the job more satisfying for the doctors. Above all, the doctors seemed happy to come into work each day and for me that was a real driving factor persuading me to consider general practice as a career.
I know what kind of life I want; I want a career where I can make a lasting difference to people and their families, as well as having time for the important people in my life and I believe a career in general practice gives me the opportunity for that.
About the writer
Dr Jenna Hussain is an F1 doctor, studying at Severn Foundation School.