I love my work. In the current climate of a cash-strapped NHS with seemingly ever-increasing patient demand this may be a rare thing for a GP to say, yet it is true. Of course, most GPs relish the clinical challenges and variety that our job presents, and we all value the relationships we are able to develop with patients and their families as we care for them over the years. However, the increasing administrative burden, slow erosion of income and workforce recruitment crisis is taking its toll; around me many colleagues are feeling increasingly demoralised and disenchanted with their career. Whilst I cannot argue that times are difficult, I feel fortunate that I have been able to retain a more positive perspective on my career.
Reflecting on the reasons for my different outlook, I believe a significant contributing factor is because I complement my busy days at the practice with a day a week of working, and thinking, at an entirely different pace as a GP Research Fellow. I get a chance to shift my mind into a different gear and, importantly, apply a critical academic eye to the primary care issues that I know, through first-hand experience, are important. It allows me to at least entertain the belief that I can play a part in creating evidence-based solutions to the problems I encounter in my clinical practice.
Prior to my current post I held a similar part-time position in the Population Health and Primary Care Department here at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School. This allowed me to begin research in the fields of multimorbidity, shared decision making, integrated care and care-planning, and our department have since submitted three separate bids for NIHR and CLAHRC funding in these areas. I have also been involved in the submission of a study proposal to the NIHR Health Service Delivery Research funding stream on the topic of GP recruitment.
It has been a real pleasure to use my CLAHRC funded GP Research Fellow contract to build on the work I had already started, and I hope that my year in this post will lead on to further academic work, ideally with a role in a funded study. Ultimately, I plan to progress my academic career through applying for a PhD Fellowship. At present, however, I feel like I am consolidating my foundations as an early career researcher, and starting to see my efforts come to fruition. I am very grateful for the opportunities that the Fellowship has provided, and the balance it has afforded me in my career. I look forward to reaping the rewards in years to come.