My name is Uzair Shabbir and I am currently working as a Salaried GP in Clanmaurice Medical Practice, County Kerry. I graduated from the Southwest Scheme in July of 2022. And here is why I think you should be a GP.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. “Rumi”
I was born and brought up in Pakistan. My family lived in a small town, where there weren’t many opportunities so left home at an early age to study abroad. I undertook my A-Levels in the UK, and then completed my medical degree in Romania. I always admired my aunt, who, as well as being a GP
partner, always managed her household well and seemed to have time for her personal life. After finishing medical school, I had the opportunity to explore general practice in the UK and Sweden. While waiting for the reply to my job applications, I was offered an opportunity to spend about 4 months in general practice. This was my first exposure to the inner workings of a GP practice and left a fairly positive impact.
One fine afternoon, while enjoying cinnamon buns in Stockholm, I finally received my job offer from University Hospital Kerry. I was delighted to land my first ever paid job after a good bit of struggle.
Getting into GP Training
I had a predilection toward general practice due to my exposure in the UK and Sweden, but I wanted to explore other specialities before committing to general practice. While working in the orthopaedics job, I rated different aspects of the job before deciding on my career path. It turned out that I hated theatre, liked ward jobs and emergencies, but loved the outpatients. This was because I could actually develop rapport with my patients and communicate effectively, thus it was most rewarding. After pondering on this, my decision seemed very obvious, and I applied for the GP Scheme.
I was told by my peers that I had little chance of getting into the scheme as I was a non-EU applicant and had little chance of succeeding in Ireland due to the ICGP policy for shortlisting at that time. Instead of focusing on these remarks, I approached the GP trainees in my hospital who were extremely helpful in guiding me through the application process. I was so grateful and ecstatic when I was offered a place in Southwest GP Scheme.
Training to be a GP in Southwest Ireland
I loved my training years, and I am fortunate to have made great friends after the span of those wonderful 4 years. Especially our Wednesday teaching days, where we could catch up and unwind a bit. The training consisted of 2 years in the local hospital and 2 years as GP registrars. I am fortunate to have had supportive mentors, whether as trainers or program directors. I had a very good mix of practices. From the rural part of North Kerry to the tourist town of Killarney. I was fluent in Kerry’s lingo by the end of it. Both practices had very different philosophies of work, and varied patient cohorts while attempting to achieve the same goal. Both practices were unified in the way they welcomed me into their team, and eventually became an extension of my family.
We all endure adversities in our life. Whatever personal challenges life threw at me, the practices were always a place where I felt I was accepted and cared for. I believe that this on its own makes general practice very special and in a league of its own.
Life as a GP, Was it worth it?
I was delighted and relieved to be done with all the requirements for becoming a GP. After the challenging years of my training, I wanted to take an opportunity to explore my professional and personal interests. After some consideration, I felt that it was probably too early to take on a GMS list or
join as a partner. I decided to work 3 days a week. As for my professional interest, I am keen to join medical teaching and also take part in medical research. I don’t merely want to practice the art of medicine, but contribute to and improve it on the way along. Moreover, I have always given my time to
inform and propagate information about GP training to my non-EU colleagues, because I feel that they have so much to offer but don’t necessarily make it to the final phase. I am pleased that during the last 2 years, ICGP has granted more placements to non-EU candidates, which will make GP in Ireland more diverse to meet the unique social, cultural, and linguistic needs of our patients.
Flexibility at work has allowed me to get more quality time with my family, which was always a source of concern during my early medical career. I am attempting to make a positive impact on the local Muslim community in Tralee while volunteering for various campaigns within Kerry. Furthermore, I have finally acquired membership in the local tennis club which took about 4 years. The best thing is that I now have the time to enjoy all these activities.
I am still in my early days of being a GP, but it is exciting and full of possibilities. I can tailor it around my lifestyle. I can fulfil my role of being a clinician, enjoy time with my family, indulge in my hobbies and also contribute to my local community.
Lastly, I believe there is no other medical speciality that gives flexibility and works–life balance as a general practice. I would urge our upcoming doctors to consider it as their career of choice.