Author: BJGP Life

The Technophobe’s Guide to the Digital Age

Rebecca Varley trained at Lancaster Medical School and is on the brink of being an FY1 based at Manchester Royal Infirmary. She was joint second place in the BJGP Student Writing Competition which had the theme ‘The GP in the Digital Age’. We liked her warm, personal counter-perspective on how we approach technology. Douglas Adams had it right. In his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series he perfectly encapsulates the way I feel about technology. I am one of those poor Earthlings who “still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea,” and wonders why no one has noticed that technology is only making life more complicated? Adams’ infamous Nutrimatic-Drinks-Dispenser “invariably delivers a liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.”1 And isn’t it true? Machines can’t even get tea right. When the best part of technology is the “sense of achievement you get from getting it to work at all,” something is wrong.2 Despite having been born slap-bang in the middle of the digital age, I am dismayed to find myself a ‘technophobe.’ But when I look around at my colleagues-to-be, I don’t believe I’m alone. On every GP placement I have heard doctors bemoaning technology day in and day out. And why not, when all the patient notes spontaneously decide to reboot mid-surgery, when the electronic prescribing program takes itself out for a few hours, or when a...

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Improving GP recruitment: a medical student perspective

Nabila Rehnnuma is a first year graduate-entry medical student at Cambridge University. A funding crisis, increasing workload, falling real income and continuing negative media press, these are just a few of the reasons why general practice is decreasing in its level of popularity amongst medical students.1 This problem is further exacerbated by medical schools, which have cultivated a culture where general practice is seen as the “second-choice”. This is despite the fact that general practice can be one of the most challenging and equally rewarding professions. Headlines describing the rising patient expectations, reduced resources and poor staffing levels further dissuades potential general gractitioners, with more than 400 GP trainee posts left vacant in 2014.2 This diverges from governments’ current plans which have stipulated that Health Education England should ensure that, by 2015, half of all medical students are to become GPs.1 Therefore, the question remains, how do we meet this target? And more importantly, how do we make the role of a general practitioner more appealing to the current medical student? One of the important determining factors behind medical students’ career preferences tend to be their attitudes towards the medical specialities.3 Experiences at medical school tend to dictate an individual’s attitude, with attitude being one of the most important driving forces. Positive previous experiences on placement stood as one of the greatest influences affecting medical students’ career choices, according...

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The GP ‘Brand’ and recruitment: Lessons from the business world

Louise Skioldebrand is a partner, appraiser and trainer based in Stowmarket, Suffolk. After the first round of recruitment only 72% of UK GP training posts were filled, with some areas as low as 36%…. we can look at possible reasons for this; young doctors are having to commit so early to their career choice, younger doctors preferring urban areas, and medical student selection at 18 being so academically skewed that they don’t want to consider GP as a career. The current crisis has led the West Suffolk GPST scheme trainers to focus on recruitment and have had the privilege of being involved in two workshops led by Richard Mosley and Simon Barrow. They are experts in ‘Employer Brand Management’ and have written books on the subject. The ‘Employer Brand’ is defined as ‘the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company’. The main role of the brand is to provide a coherent framework for management to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity and improve recruitment, retention and commitment. So how can we apply this to general practice? Let’s look at what we need to focus on: Employer brands provide a focal point for: Aspiration (eg Royal Shakespeare Company – it’s a company any actor should have on their resume); Identity (World Wildlife Fund – I’m proud to tell people where I work); Engagement (Pret a Manger –...

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Altmetrics: now available for BJGP articles

The world of scholarly publishing is changing rapidly, partly in response to digital publication, and also with more focus on the dissemination and implementation of published research. Traditional bibliometrics, such as the impact factor, have been used to measure aggregated citation rates as a proxy measure of journal quality. There is now more interest in looking at article-level and author-level metrics. Peer-review publication is one component of an ‘ecosystem’ of dissemination, which includes, for example, citations, news and media coverage, discussion on social media and websites, and inclusion in practice guidelines. These new metrics – ‘altmetrics’ – defined as anything that is not a citation, can be captured in a number of ways. The BJGP has launched the Altmetric donut, a colourful, arresting image which depicts the various media which have paid attention to a given article, with a numerical score reflecting the number of ‘mentions’. The Altmetric buttons, appearing within the ‘Info’ tab of each article, are not substitutes for traditional bibliometrics, but we think will become a useful addition to understanding how research results ‘get out’ and are incorporated into...

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Seismic changes in GP teaching – where will the new GPs come from?

Alex Harding is a GP and academic based in Exeter. UK General Practitioners are the largest part of the medical workforce, deliver the most care and deliver this care highly effectively. Most people who have ventured abroad and talked about health are surprised at the envious comments from patients and practitioners alike about the UK health system under the NHS. However the UK GP workforce has not kept pace with the increases in healthcare need, increases in similar workforces abroad or increases in other health professionals in the UK. In order to address this and an impending GP workforce crisis the English Department of Health has mandated HEE to ensure that by next year 50% of graduates will opt for GP training. At present however, 19% of final year students want to be GPs and many GP training schemes are struggling to recruit enough graduates. In some parts of the country there are now 40% vacancy rates. There is some good research that shows that exposure to general practice as a medical student has a strong positive effect on future career choice and so appropriate general practice experience as a medical student is an important part of workforce planning. With this in mind, we surveyed the UK medical schools regarding undergraduate and postgraduate teaching provision and how this was supported in financial and academic terms. We used standard methods to...

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The British Journal of General Practice and BJGP Open are bringing research to clinical practice. This is where we add the debate and opinion to help ensure everyone benefits from that research.

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