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The Apprentice

Dr John Paul Campion, a GP registrar from Mid Leinster, contemplates his future as a fully qualified GP

As I write this, I am in my final week as a GP registrar. My apprenticeship is coming to an end and I will emerge to become a fully qualified GP. It is probably the most frightening time of my career. Up to now I have had the security of HSE employment on a fixed-term contract. I have been nobody’s boss and I have had little in the way of responsibility. The step up is a daunting one, but I feel ready for whatever challenges come my way.

The amount of uncertainty in the whole system is making definite career planning a virtually impossible task

The current economic and healthcare climate is very frightening too. The amount of uncertainty in the whole system is making definite career planning a virtually impossible task. What I do know is that I want to stay in Ireland. That used to be a given for Irish GP graduates, but now there is an exodus to foreign shores unlike anything experienced in the healthcare profession before. We are losing so many GPs to better pay and conditions in Canada, Australia and the Middle East on a weekly basis that it seems there will soon be nobody to inherit Irish general practice.

I know that long term, I want to be my own boss, and within general practice that means being a principal someday. That means waiting for the right opportunity to arise. I’m going to be working as a sessional GP for the short term and see where it takes me but ultimately I see myself with my own practice.

I know that long term, I want to be my own boss, and within general practice that means being a principal someday. That means waiting for the right opportunity to arise. I’m going to be working as a sessional GP for the short term and see where it takes me but ultimately I see myself with my own practice.

That’s where the uncertainty lies. Where is the future of general practice heading? Will the current model of mixed GMS and private be sustainable in the future? Will FEMPI cut more meat from the already skeletal GP incomes? Will the new GMS contract be as bad as we all fear it may be? How can I find a locum, or will I just never be able to take a holiday again? It’s like standing on the edge of a pool and not knowing how deep the water is.

I am optimistic about the future despite all the doom and gloom
I am optimistic about the future despite all the doom and gloom. The health system needs general practice. It needs it to function well. It needs GPs who are invested in their communities and who can deliver efficient and effective medicine at the real frontline. Change is inevitable. General practice will transform drastically over the coming years, business models will evolve and some will adapt better to these changes than others. I won’t fear to jump into the health system feet first, because I know that I have been well trained and that my options are still there no matter what happens. It’s time to step over the edge.
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