Friday, 11 December 2015

Winter has arrived...

Winter has arrived in the Outer Hebrides.. with it brings some varied weather which makes for interesting visits and surgeries!

I was so lucky to capture this wonderful stag while travelling from my Uig surgery to Leurbost surgery this afternoon. It was so close to the road but the winter lighting makes the photo dark and majestic!

This evening we braved the rains to see the arrival of the Shetland Vikings along with the rest of the Stornoway community to turn on the christmas lights! The weather couldn't dampen the community spirit!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Life as GP Registrar on the Isle of Lewis

Sorry its been so long since my last post... its been a busy year since we returned from New Zealand! It was a slight temperature shock from leaving NZ summer and arriving in mid-hebridean winter, but we settled in easily!

As usual, I am demonstrating the last 9 months of my GP registrar life here in pictures - as many of you will agree, I feel like this is one of the best GP registrar jobs in the world.. just look at the views! Many of these photos were taken on the way/way back from surgeries and home visits all over the island.

I am very lucky to work with a fantastic team at the Langabhat Medical Practice. We work with a team of doctors, nurse practitioner's, practice nurses and healthcare assistants to provide clinical care supported by a fantastic administration team. Given the geographical area we cover, it is important for us to work closely as a team to provide the best outcome for our patients. This means that although we sometimes work in remote sites, we are connected by one computer system, telephone lines and have regular clinical team meetings using VC link (similar to Skype) to keep in touch and provide support for each other. 

We have also been busy with extra-curricular activities - we have been fortunate to attend several conferences over the last 6 months including the RCGP conference in Glasgow and further afield by attending the WONCA conference in Istanbul. This has allowed us to get our occasional weekend 'CityLife' fix of shopping, cinemas, concerts etc. The transport links from the island are very regular, allowing you to fly to Inverness/Edinburgh/Glasgow every day and you can also use the ferry to connect to Ullapool or the Isle of Skye.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Life as a rural doctor in New Zealand!

I have to admit that one of the main reasons I chose to do the Rural Track GP Program was the Out of Programme Experience for 6 months, which was included in the programme. As a child, I was lucky to have so many travel adventures due to my parent's work opportunities, I was bitten by the travel bug at a young age.

We were lucky enough to encounter South Link Health, based in Dunedin, Otago (South Island). They kindly set up a role for us at East Otago Health medical practice based in Palmerston & Waikouaiti. We started work here in August, we have a brilliant team from reception, manager, practice nurse's, advance trained PRIME nurses. We are very privileged to be supported by long standing Professor in General Practice, Prof. Campbell Murdoch.

We are having a great time, settling into the area. Everyone (Staff and patients alike) have been so kind and patient with us,  whilst we settle into a different health system and helping us to arrange our weekends away, outings to see the local wildlife (little blue pengiuns, yellow eyed penguins and Albatross). exploring the South Island in our free time.We've been lucky enough to explore Wanaka, Queenstown and Aoraki (Mount Cook) National Park. It has been a fantastic opportunity to find out more about life as a rural GP in New Zealand and how fabulous the work-life balance can be!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Thoughts on the Rural Track GP Training Programme... so far...

Hard to believe that I am writing this nearly half way through my GP training programme... it seems only yesterday that I was making the decision to undertake GP training in Scotland and more importantly - in the Highlands & Islands.

I am in my final hospital post - and have to say that I have been very lucky to have such a well rounded hospital-based experience. I feel I have been lucky to encompass most general specialties which are all applicable to General Practice throughout training.

By spending my first year in the Western Isles Hospital - I was lucky to gain experience in a breadth of medical experience in a 4 month placements - by combining Acute Medicine/A&E/General Medicine/Stroke/Old Age Medicine in my medical job. My surgical horizons were broadened by having the opportunity to spend time with the General Surgery/Orthopaedic and Obstetric teams within the WIH. I also found my 4 months spent in Psychiatry with a combination of General Adult, Old Age and Community Psychiatry to be very enlightening and found the team at the WIH so welcoming and keen to engage in teaching.

My second year has been split into Paediatrics and A&E. Paediatrics opened up the opportunity of neonates, which I had not previously encountered - doing baby checks, attending deliveries and looking after the neonatal unit. This provided the opportunity to discover common neonatal problems which may present to GP or worres/questions that parents may have. My A&E placement has been busy, well support with a fantastic induction teaching programme which really sets the scene for the next 6 months working there. It has a great team atmosphere and such a breadth of presentations which I feel will set me up well for life in Rural General Practice.

So that sums up the educational part of the programme, but for me, one of the best things about doing the Rural GP track programme is having the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place, fantastic work-life balance and many places to explore/activities to get stuck into. We have noticed this particularly when living in the Western Isles with a very generous rota and plenty of free evening/weekend time! We found great sense of family within the Hospital, everyone was so welcoming and particularly amongst the Junior Doctors who are based out there - all keen to make the most of the experience, by exploring the island, doing all activities available and eating lots of good food!

We are now planning our Out of Programme Experience which, I believe, is another highlight of the programme, giving you the opportunity to take 6 months to explore an area of GP/Medicine/Education which you are interested in or the opportunity to travel (if you wish) to explore medicine in a different place. Ours plans are still in progress, I will tell you about them when they are set in stone!

We are looking forward to returning to our GP training in the Western Isles in February 2015. We have been lucky to continue to have GP visit days (3 per 6 months) where we can spend time in practice, shadowing or undertaking consultations to keep our hand in General Practice and enable us to focus our learning in our hospital based jobs towards General Practice.

I should probably sign off now, as this is one of my longest blogs to date.. hard to summarise the last 2 years in words but I wouldn't change a thing, I am so happy with the choice I made to do the Rural Programme based in the Western Isles

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Hidden Treasures on the Moray Coast

Sorry its been awhile... completed my 6 month job in Paediatrics, gained lots of experience and  really enjoyed the variety of working with neonates and on the Children's Ward. Just settling into my new A&E post in Raigmore. Lots of fantastic learning opportunities available with great comradery between nursing and medical staff.

Enjoying spending days off exploring the Highlands, heard about a great walk on the Moray Coast with a lovely little beach called 'Primrose Bay' with huge caves to explore! Off to explore Lossiemouth this weekend.. a little birdie told me about a beautiful beach and some fantastic seafood there!

 Currently planning my Out of Programme Experience for August... will update you when plans are confirmed, but it is very exciting!

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Right folks.. so I have joined twitter!

 If anyone has any questions about Rural GP training or life in highlands/islands, please tweet me and I'll try to get back to you! I am new to this though.. so apologies for any slow/lost responses!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Fine Dining and New Friends...

What a week!

Busy week, started with a study day for my diploma in family sexual reproductive health. Great day consolidating knowledge from the e-learning modules in practical sessions and discussion groups. This is a fantastic course which I was supported through with study leave by NES.  

We were lucky to be invited to have dinner with delegates from the Japanese Association for Development of Community Medicine (JADECOM), who were visiting the highlands to look at delivery of rural healthcare in Scotland. The evening gave us a fascinating insight into medicine in Japan and there were interesting discussions about the similarities and challenges in medicine and general practice between the highlands and rural areas in Japan. We also discussed the importance of education and training as part of delivery of rural healthcare in Scotland by encouraging early rural medical student placements, rural GP training programme and the Rural Fellowships for newly qualified GPs. We hope to continue to develop a working relationship between the 2 countries in the future.

The week ended with the 2nd Annual Rural GP training workshop, which this year was based in the Western Isles. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with other rural trainees in different locations and at different stages of their training. There was a fantastic sense of comradery and we felt as group we had a really strong identity with many shared views and interests. We left as firm friends and look forward to keeping in touch and visiting each other across the highlands and islands from Shetland, Orkney, Wick, Fort William, Grantown-on-spey and Oban.

We also had a great time discussing rural GP issues, learnt more about the forensic side of GP, practice based small group learning and we were lucky enough to be hosted by the Stornoway Search & Rescue Team who kindly showed us around their fantastic helicopter and showed us their medical equipment, discussed the challenges of retrieving patients and pre-hospital  emergency care challenges.