Doctor (general practitioner)

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Greg, 50

Doctor (General Practitioner) taking blood pressure of patientWhat does a GP do?

"A GP is exactly what the job title says: a general practitioner," Greg explains. "This means that whenever people feel even the slightest bit sick, they come to me either to figure out what to do next or what is actually wrong."

General Practitioners - sometimes simply called "doctors" - are the go-to people for most general illnesses like fevers and flus. A GP will examine their patient, ask for symptoms and provide a diagnosis before prescribing medicine (if necessary) or writing out a referral for a specialist, should the case be more serious.

Why did you decide to become a GP?

Greg enjoys helping others in any way he can. Growing up in a family of eight kids and being the eldest, Greg often had to help out his younger siblings with injuries and take care of them when they were sick.

"It was always the field of medicine that I wanted to get into. As long as I could help someone with what I did, I was happy," Greg says.

How did you become a GP?

Greg knew in high school that he wanted to work in the field of medicine, but wasn’t quite sure what exactly he would do. "It just sort of happened. I didn’t care what I did, I just knew I wanted to be a doctor of some sort," he recalls, "I knew I’d have to study for years and years before I could go into practice - but I loved every minute of it."

What do you like best about your job?

"Aside from getting to help my community, as a GP I meet all types of interesting people," Greg says thoughtfully, "and I get to learn about the many different excuses students make up to get out of school."

Greg has met thousands of people in his line of work and has had thousands of students come into his office claiming to be sick, just to get out of tests or homework. "Students, no matter what age or from whatever generation, are very creative when it comes to making up excuses," Greg says with a laugh.   

What's the hardest thing about your job?

"I often tell myself that I am my worst enemy. As a doctor, I sometimes forget that I can get sick," Greg says. "I meet a lot of people every day. I meet a lot of sick people. If you do the math, there’s a huge chance of me getting sick just by being around so many sick patients. But I do enjoy a challenge. It’s, like, 'Let’s just hope I don’t come home with a cold or a fever!'"

What does a typical working day involve?

Greg gets to work and deals first with any paperwork that needs to be dealt with. There are usually already people lined up to see him, so he gets the first patient in as quickly as he can. On average, Greg sees at least 50 to 80 people a day for various reasons, including coming in for referrals, prescriptions, checkups or doctor’s notes.

Every day has its unique cases, so Greg doesn’t think of any kind of working day as "typical".

"Believe me, I’ve been in this practice long enough and there’s always something new to see every day," Greg says.

What sort of skills do you need to do your job?

"It helps to have studied medicine," Greg jokes. "It's also important to be patient, and to have a good attitude. You want your patients to feel like they can talk to you about anything - even really strange aches, pains, rashes or whatever it is, really. Some people get shy and try to leave out information that could be important for me to know as their GP, so it definitely helps to be friendly."

What kind of skills have you learned from doing this job?

Greg has learned all about patience and says he has "mastered the art of being able to diagnose patients within just a few minutes". After years of practise, Greg also says he is now able to distinguish between those who are sick and those who just wish they were sick, for whatever reason it may be.

What advice do you have for people thinking about doing this job?

Hard work and patience will pay off, Greg says. "As long as you’re willing, there will be a way. It’s not all about your years of study. You have to be good with people and know how to interact with hundreds of them every single day."

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).