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