So I’ve finished being RCGP President, and I’ve retired after 40 years of general practice. That leaves me more time to volunteer – but for what? As well as doing some more generic ‘citizen’ activities, I have carried on with a number of RCGP links; I put my hand up to be the Equality Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) lead for our Faculty Board in East Anglia, I’m a Mentor on the College Mentoring platform, and I’m active in the Later Career and Retired Members (LCARM) network. I also continue to link into international issues for general practice through our World Organization of Family Doctors network – remember, as a member of RCGP you are a member of WONCA too!
Why do I volunteer? The words “legacy, identity and purpose” spring to mind – I am still a GP and feel I have expertise to offer to others, as well as personally wanting to maintain relationships with my peers and those who are still pursuing their careers. And the College has been a key professional network for me ever since I went into postgraduate training in 1980 – so I am delighted that I can still draw on its resources, and that retirement does not exclude me from this. Also, I have more time than many of my working GP colleagues, so I can afford to give something back! But it’s also worth noting that, throughout my busy working life in clinical and academic posts, I was always active in the RCGP. I made the time for this because I found it professionally supportive, and increasingly understood it had the potential to be a real change agent.
Different people choose different aspects – some focus on the core business of education and MRCGP, others come in via their local faculties and their activities, and some join ‘special interest’ groups related to big issues such as climate change. Many draw on the RCGP in different ways at different career stages – for me, it was a source of CPD in my early fulltime GP career, but then became more of a national network for my academic activities. And I only understood the work of the Council and the Officer leads when I had been able to join Council via the Research Committee- which led me to be interested in applying for Officer roles. So, you never know where volunteering may end you up! I am very grateful to the RCGP and all its members for the opportunities it has given me throughout my working life, and am glad still to be able to contribute and learn.
About the writer
Professor Amanda Howe is a former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners.