Between the 12th and 16th December, I spent some time sitting alongside various medical professionals, all within a doctors’ surgery. The week gave me a chance to see what the work life is really like in a practice; I sat with a GP, Nurse Practitioner, and a Practice Nurse, all of which gave me different perspectives of healthcare.
Although my week was just a shadowing opportunity, rather than experiencing first-hand what the jobs are like, I found it extremely insightful and has helped me when considering the field of general practice. I sat with the medical professionals while they saw to patients; observations, diagnosis and prescription. A good portion of my time was used for asking questions, to learn more about the roles I was observing. This experience as a whole helped me understand what the day-to-day life of GP, Nurse Practitioner, and practice nurses are like.
The one key thing I learnt from my time at the practice was the importance of listening to patients, showing empathy and being generally friendly to them as some patients can be very nervous or uncomfortable when seeking medical advice. It was apparent that some patients were in no need of any prescription, although it was still important that this was respected, as many people aren’t sure when they should come and see their doctors. Also in this scenario, patients require reassurance on their health when they are concerned about their symptoms, or in general when a patient may be suffering with mental illness. Another part of the job that is probably overlooked, is explaining to patients what they should do next, in terms of medication, dosage, lifestyle choices or booking further appointments. A patients life can be made a lot easier by explaining everything to them, rather than leaving them unsure about certain aspects of the upcoming weeks.
I would definitely say to people that are thinking about applying for medicine at university, that getting some work shadowing experience in a GP surgery is a great thing to do, as you will learn far more than you anticipate, and you will also get a good insight into the field of general practice; this will help you choose whether you think it is for you or not.