Andrew Dickinson

I usually arrive at work at shortly after 0730hrs, log on, look ahead to the clinics and review some results. The morning surgery starts at 0800hrs and we will see people with the full spectrum of health-related problems: acute infections, health promotion, chronic disease management, family planning, mental health issues, addiction problems, vaccinations, travel medicine etc. Home visits take place over the middle of the day and then we return for the afternoon surgery which finishes at 1800hrs. Thereafter further results that have come in need to be reviewed as well as referral letters to write and such like.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
The ability to relate to people, understand their issues and to know how to help them overcome them or to deal with them. Essentially therefore: empathy, interpersonal skills and medical knowledge.

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
I had always contemplated a career in medicine. I liked the prospect of a vocational job which combined the use of sciences in a very positive context. Within medical school I really enjoyed each placement and realised early on that I would want to retain this breadth of experience and learning and become a generalist. The valued position within a community, the continuity that a orded and the work-life balance were all reasons that being a GP appealed.

What do you love most about working in your career area?
I love the privileged position of fulfilling a vocation, which people turn to for help. It carries responsibility and is challenging but is immensely rewarding.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
General Practice is not a speciality which compartmentalises care with only a brief interface within the patient’s lifetime – as would often be the case for hospital specialities. We are our patients’ doctor in continuity. This is a privilege but means we must manage risk. Sometimes it is tricky to avoid bringing ‘work’ home.

What training / quali cations did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
I studied medicine for five years. I chose to join the British Army which provided additional training and experience to that which was provided within the NHS solely, such as pre-hospital/trauma medicine and occupational medicine. In addition to my NHS training and completing membership of The Royal College of General Practitioners, I achieved diplomas in obstetrics and gynaecology, occupational medicine and pre-hospital emergency medicine. I am currently studying for the diploma of dermatology at Queen Mary University of London.

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
We may well all end up working until we are 80! Don’t be put off about a late career change. There are varied access points for medicine. Scientific knowledge is typically tested in the form of entrance examinations, access courses or A-Levels. Universities detail the entrance requirements on their websites but candidates must also show non-academic commitment to a caring profession eg. voluntary work, community-focussed work.

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