General Practice in 150 words

This blog will help you remember the reason why you chose General Practice. A bold claim but sometimes a direct approach is required.

150 words. Too long for a glib witticism, too short to be tedious.

Earlier this summer after being asked to write 100-150 words on what it means to be a GP for a newspaper article, I set myself the task of making every single word count and communicate what matters to me and my own values. It felt good to get a distilled version of those parts of the job that sing to me and reinforce my practice, both on the difficult days and the days it goes well.

Ever the generalist, I could see in my submission parts I was satisfied with and elements I didn’t address. Surely others could top this, or speak from a different viewpoint? Twitter seemed a perfect medium to test that.

Using a unique hashtag I could link others’ versions to build a collection of perspectives. Thanks to those early contributors, (Nishma Manek chief among them who worked tirelessly promoting the cause, coaxing and cajoling to get the great and the good expressing their 150 words), the submissions rolled in.

Each one was assigned a unique font to reflect their individual nature and then circulated via the Twittersphere. Daily tweets followed over the summer period, with millions of twitter reach achieved. The heroes and role models, the celebrated and the anonymous, the creative and the humourous, all drawing on experience or hopes for the future.

At RCGP Conference in autumn at NHS Question Time, Robina Shah called for a change in the narrative and making it a positive one. It struck me that this was already present in #GP150w, which won the 2017 Vibrant Faculties Award at Conference for the Midland Faculty.

It struck a chord with many readers through its balanced but overtly positive and aspirational tone. So many authors from within the profession, (as well as patients, colleagues, trainees and medical students), took time to express their take on what GP means to them, the response was humbling and inspiring in equal measure.

Obsessed as I am with the bigger picture, our versions are collected together in the interactive Prezi, which continues to be updated (link below). The versions are grouped according to authors, but entries can be viewed in the order seen fit by the reader.

They all remain visible via the hashtag but in an unorganized pattern ordered only by their timing of tweets.It’s very gratifying to see the impact and value with which general practice is held. I read about them in the stories and descriptions of the authors, and I hope that my colleagues would have felt, as I did, that the process of writing the entries was more valuable than the numbers of retweets, likes and twitter impressions can quantify.

There are many fulfilled GPs who are justifiably proud of the contribution they make to their patients’ lives. Some of them have articulated what matters to them in their contributions to the collection. Many more of them have continued to do what they do so well without reflecting. They’re getting on with it, thanks very much.

Other GPs, who are finding the current climate clouds their perception of their value and worth to their community are welcome to dip in and steal the positivity and pride within the narrative, during a cuppa, in a break in the paperwork or between meetings.

A resonance amongst readers for the resilience we require.

Voices are heard, emotions are resonated and pride is reinforced.

GPs coming together to produce something that celebrates our profession and fosters wellbeing- isn’t that what a College or Faculty is for?

I challenged trainees at our VTS to pick the three that speak to them and draw on why- and it really got to what is fundamental- I would extend that challenge to you; pick your own three. Then write a better one!

You are where you are due to extensive training, investment, experience and achievement. Invest in yourself by identifying and articulating what matters to you right now.

See #GP150w in practice

For the reflectors to reflect:

For the have-a-goers to have a go.

by Jamie Hynes (Twitter @ArtfulDoctor)

RCGP Regional Ambassador – The Black Country

Honorary Secretary, RCGP Midland Faculty

GP Principal, Horseley Heath Surgery & Tandon Medical Centre


  • Sgt Spooner
    Posted at 20:09h, 27 February Reply

    Part of your experience is your own individual heritage and the values this embraces. Part of what brings me personally to where I am is the pride my Mother had in me, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren and what we have become and what we share through our work. Well done Dr Hynes.

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