The role of a General Practitioner
General Practitioner’s (or GP’s) form the backbone and frontline of the medical system, operating as an initial point of contact for illnesses, ailments and treatment. They are embedded throughout cities and communities throughout the country and often have strong and close relationships with the local community, which rightly view having a GP within the area as an essential service. The general practise community also works closely with the hospital system in terms of referrals and consultations, with many doctors also specialising in consultant positions within hospitals in addition to their community medical duties. GP’s in Ireland are well paid and are mostly self employed, but the hours can be long, including anti-social hours, and there can be times of significant stress, particularly during community wide health emergencies.
How do I become a GP?
The road to becoming a GP in Ireland is a long and thorough one, reflecting the unique responsibilities and duties of the role. To gain entry to study medicine at one of the 6 medical schools in Ireland (RCSI, UCD, Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway, University of Limerick and UCC) you will need to earn in the region of 600 points in your leaving certificate, which equates to at least five A1 grades. You will also need to sit the Health Professions Admissions Test (HPAT) which will test, amongst other things, your verbal and numerical reasoning and cognitive and interpersonal skills.
If you’re accepted to medical school you will undertake a five year programme where you will be educated in all aspects of general and emergency medicine. In your final year, and in the year following graduation you will work as an intern as assigned by the Health Services Executive (HSE). Prior to sitting your final exams you will also need to sit the membership entrance exam for the Irish College of General Practitioners. More information on the structure of this exam is available via www.icgp.ie.
After graduation you will then move towards training for your chosen specialism as a GP, this is when you will learn, through classroom lectures and practical training, what is involved in a career as a doctor. This specialisation training takes four years, the first two will see you work in hospital settings while the final two will see you work under supervision within a GP environment.
Following on from your completion of G P training you can go into practise or choose to continue your training into specialisms and ultimately becoming a consultant, a highly specialised and well remunerated position which is also highly competitive.
Who you will work with
You will liaise regularly with fellow medical professionals from many areas, both administrative and clinical. Although most GP’s are self employed, the medical system is by necessity connected through the various outlets of patient care and as the front-line responder, GP’s will have regular working relationships with:
● Emergency Department Staff Nurse
● Paediatric Nurse
● Palliative care nurse
● Laboratory assistant
Key skills for general practitioners
As a General Practitioner, care for the patient and excellence in carrying our medical care and providing medical advice must be at the core of everything that you do. The role is hugely varied because no two patient cases are the same.
● Ability to work long hours, often under pressure
● Good practical skills
● Communication skills, compassion and a good manner in terms of dealing with patients
● Ability to solve problems and effective decision-making skills
● Drive to continue learning throughout career
● Business management skills
● Attention to detail and patience
● Good inter-agency and interpersonal skills
www.icgp.ie : Irish College of General Practitioners
www.rcsi.ie: Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
www.ihca.ie: Irish Hospital Consultants Organisation
www.hse.ie: Health Services Executive