This year Medical Forum has been going for 25 years.
I was pondering what I had learned about careers and career guidance during that time. Tons as you might imagine - but what is the essence or summary?
It wasn't entirely clear to me 25 years ago that career choice, planning and guidance is not merely about looking at the person and at the options and trying to make a fit. That was how I had been indoctrinated by school and higher education.
It is much more about finding out what makes a person truly tick and helping them to carve the niche they need to fulfil their potential if that niche is not already there.
In other words less of a matching process and more of an exploring process of who one is, who one would like to become, where one would like to go and how. It requires vision and the courage to state what one wants. It requires an ability to look more closely at the self than most people would normally choose to do.
But by harnessing all these elements there is a far better chance of developing a career that actually matches who you are rather than trying to fit yourself into a box that others have created.
It is all about taking responsibility and empowerment to do so.
And that process can be at the same time - scary, cathartic, challenging and fun.
And I like being the supportive catalyst!
A recent Pulse Today article revealed that medical schools may be actively sabotaging GP recruitment
Assuming this is true ( and one can not always rely on media to give the full story) then it MUST be stopped not least because GP recruitment is suffering problems at the moment.
There are a number of ways in which general practice doesn't get a fair crack at the whip in the minds of medical students and anyone taking a pop - intentionally or unwittingly at the GP career choice needs to carefully rethink their attitude
the amount of time spent in general practice at medical school compared to other specialities is disproportionate to the number of people who will eventually work in it
There is a computerised test that many students take which produces a list of career options - indicating which one might be most suited to. However it is to my knowledge not "weighted' appropriately towards the numbers of students who will be GPs. For example the top 10 careers might show general practice as one of the options. This indicates that perhaps one has an equal chance for all these careers - when in fact that may not be true. If the algorithm used in the test was representative for someone where a GP career was well matched - it should appear as 5-6 out of that ten.
There is a wholesale lack of career guidance being provided to medical students. Yes there is a careers advisor in most schools but these are either grossly under resourced ( e.g. one day a week for one adviser for 500 students) or they are insufficiently trained in the full picture of selecting people for jobs and the work one needs to do on oneself to be well prepared to make the right choices. Alternatively they may be careers advisors from the university careers department and may have little if any understanding of clinical careers and the nuances of choosing between them.
The pervasive snootiness of some hospital doctors towards their GP colleagues and a total lack of understanding just how amazing a GP career can be if it is chosen as part of an overall well researched career plan
The deans as referred to above - who really should know better.
I regularly see people in hospital medicine posts who would have been much happier as a GP and those in general practice who would have been far more well suited to a speciality. Yet somehow the wrong bums end up on the wrong seats - causing no end of difficulties - financial and health sometimes.
So - it is about time that all these elements of student - GP career interactions were addressed. Tackling only the deans will not be enough.
If there are any committees working on this - I'd be delighted to be asked to join them.