GP Work Experience.

So, on the Tuesday and Thursday of the first week of the Easter Holidays, I spent some time in a GP surgery, in order to gain more understanding about what a GP’s work consists of. The surgery was a small surgery, with only a few members of staff, which was very different from the work experience I have done in hospitals.

Firstly, there was a lot of paperwork to do! This was not much different from the hospitals, however, in the hospital, patient notes were taken down by hand, whilst at the surgery they were done on the computer. Almost everything a patient said was recorded, just in case it came in useful!

Also, as I have said, the surgery was quite small, so the doctor knew almost everyone who came in, and was able to talk to me about the previous problems the patient had had, and any other interesting pieces of information. This also created a really good rapport between the doctor and the patient, as often they had known each other for quite a long time, so there was an easy atmosphere in the room during the appointment. Another big difference between this and the hospital was the length of appointments-at one hospital I spent a few days at in the summer, the consultations were often 15-20 minutes in length, and at the hospital I was in most recently, sometimes we were talking to a patient for nearly half an hour! Here it was very different-most appointments were around the 10 minute mark, which really surprised me, as I had automatically assumed that all consultations took a long time to carry out, however, I suppose it is different for every doctor!

So, the first morning I spent watching several appointments, and, quite frankly, I was amazed at the sheer range of patients. No two patients were similar, and it was very interesting to see the doctor adapt to suit the needs of each individual, especially with the children. There were a few toddlers and babies who visited the surgery, and often they were unwilling to let the doctor examine them, however, with kind words and stickers, this issue was often resolved. Obviously the older patients didn’t have this problem! People had booked appointments for all sorts of reasons-some as a follow-up to a recent appointment-I witnessed this when I saw one patient on the Tuesday, and again on the Thursday. There was also a wide variety of cases, which made the time go very quickly, as no two cases were alike. This showed me how extensive the knowledge of a GP must be, which, although I had been aware of before, I had no idea of the scale. Some appointments were carried out over the telephone, which I found a very odd way of communicating, as with my previous work experiences, all patient contact had been face to face. However, this did seem quite an effective way of carrying out appointments, especially for those with mobility problems, busy work schedules, or other such issues, so I can see why they are now used.

On the afternoon I got to go out on two home visits, which I found quite exciting. Firstly we visited an old people’s home, where some paperwork needed to be filled in. The paperwork in question was a Do Not Resuscitate form, and the doctor had to make absolutely sure that the patient was aware of the consequences of signing this form, and that all aspects were understood. We then went to a patient’s home for a check-up. This patient required a lot of care from their partner, and the doctor was checking that all was well, which it was. We then made our way back to the surgery, where there was a lot more paperwork to fill in, followed by a few more appointments, until, about 7, we finished the day.

(Wednesday was spent revising and spending time with the wonderful Charlotte Ask, who is also hoping to study medicine, and if you’re not already reading her blog, you should be).

So, Thursday. The morning was, again, spent doing appointments (and paperwork), which was still as interesting as it was on the Tuesday (except for the paperwork…but I guess it’s more interesting if you’re the one filling it in, and as it’s an inevitable part of becoming a doctor, I guess I’ll just have to get used to it!), as you never know what is going to walk through the door next! Again, there was a wide variety of cases, which also made the morning fly by. After lunch though, we set off to a funeral directors, where a body needed to be checked. Basically, when someone dies and wishes to be cremated, their GP first checks that they are dead, and writes down the suspected cause of death (this is the same for all deaths…I think), but then another doctor has to come in and check that they are dead, and, looking at medical history and other things, write down the suspected cause of death. This is because, when being cremated, obviously, once it’s done, it’s done, so if there are any further queries into the cause of death, it’s quite hard to carry out a post-mortem on some ashes…

So, we were there to do the secondary check. This would be my first time seeing a dead body (well, human at least…guinea pigs don’t count, right?), so I was quite nervous, and I didn’t really know what to expect. We went into the mortuary, which is quite cold, understandably, as the bodies need to be kept chilled, and took the sheet off the body that we were checking. Rigor Mortis had already taken place, so the body was very stiff. We only saw the head and torso of the body, but it was safe to say that it was dead, as the eyes remained open, and the pupils had sunken in. (Also, there was no pulse/breathing/other vital signs…). After checking that the body was definitely dead, we went back up to fill in (more) paperwork. I didn’t really see why I was so nervous beforehand, as it seemed quite mundane at the time (yeah..that’s quite weird, isn’t it…). However, I feel that it is very useful to be able to see a dead body before applying to medical school, as you never know whether you might feel a bit funny about cadavers, so I feel it’s a really good experience to get over with, and I really appreciated the GP for taking me to see it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the two days of work experience, and I feel that they gave me a real insight into what the role of a GP encompasses, and what ‘the real’ life of a GP is like. Although I found this useful, I’m not sure yet that I would like to become a GP, as I still would quite like to (one day) become a surgeon! However, since I found this work experience so enjoyable, I am hoping to return in the summer for a few more days, which will hopefully be as good as these two days!

Anyway, thanks for reading…I hope you enjoyed reading about my work experience as much as I enjoyed doing it!

Bye for now,

Eleanor 🙂

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