Gp induction day. A day when the 80-odd (and in some cases, 80 odd) 1st year Gp trainees from our area meet in the conference centre of a science park and navel gaze.
I meet my new mates E & C at the door and we roll our eyes at the programme pasted on the whiteboard. There are a horrifying number of references to communication skills and the ’empathy well’.
After we check out the hot blokes and notice the plethora of wedding rings, we get down to the business of getting touchy feely about our emotions. And I begin to seriously doubt my career choice.
Everyone seems so calm, collected and rational. So patient-centric and socially conscious. I feel like I’ve turned up at an eco-warriors party in a Chelsea tractor, wearing a mink stole. I just don’t feel like I’m nice enough to be a Gp.
We break up into groups and are given a sheaf of articles to discuss around the subject ‘the future challenges facing gps’. These articles cover issues such as the ageing population, the imminent collapse of the nhs, the increase in legal claims against the medical profession, the likely pay reductions and job cuts for medics and the increase in retirement age. All of which isn’t depressing at all.
The softly-spoken, kindly Gp leading the group asks us to brain storm the tools and skills a future Gp would need to cope with these challenges.
‘a passport and a visa?’ one girl pipes up.
A fellow cynic! I internally rejoice.
I’m hardly surprised when the next session concentrates on how gps can access psychotherapy and counselling. Depression and burn out, we are told, is a massive problem in the Gp programme.
No shit, Sherlock.
Lunch time, and we descend upon the sandwiches like starving orphan children.
‘I can’t handle all these bloody doctors, I’m going for a fag,’ states C, and stalks towards the disabled exit.
At the end of the day we are asked to self reflect on what we have learnt.
A voice behind me murmurs, ‘to think before I say something I think may be funny, but not necessarily politically correct’. I turn and grin at the (before you ask, be-weddingringed) comment’s author, and suddenly don’t feel so alone.
Maybe I can be a Gp after all.