Quick chat with… Dr Zoe Norris

Why did you choose to work in general practice? 

My two favourite groups of patients are older adults, and children. There’s a lot of both in general practice! I liked the fact you could talk to people and have a relationship that went beyond one admission or clinic appointment. I was also getting fed up of being told what to do in my hospital work and didn’t think I’d manage more training where I wasn’t my own boss!

Would you choose it again?

I don’t think you can beat general practice for flexibility and variety. It’s been the right decision for me and my family, but it did take burnout and the resulting depression for me to find a long term way of me being a GP.

What advice you wish you were given in your first year as a GP?

It’s ok not to know everything, and don’t assume that other GPs do.

What’s the most useful thing you have learnt as a GP?

To be myself when consulting with patients. We develop a style of consulting in training so we can pass the exams and tick the boxes. It’s much less stressful and more natural to just let your personality come through.

Work/life balance – is it possible or is it a myth?

It is possible, absolutely. But it relies on you being brave enough to try new things, and valuing yourself enough to realise you aren’t there to sacrifice your own life and wellbeing for that of others. Medics have a deeply ingrained sense of personal responsibility and guilt, but you make a much better GP for having some balance in your life.

Where do you see the future of general practice?

I see GPs being consultants in community care; we will lead multidisciplinary primary care teams, and have roles which include more acute care, and roles traditionally done in secondary care. My worry is that we are behind the curve in dictating what this should look like. If we don’t make our voices heard, and don’t have a strong representation about these new ways of working, we will find it is imposed without much choice. General practice has a future, but it is different and we need to be saying what it should and shouldn’t look like.

Dr Zoe Norris is a portfolio GP in Hull. Having worked as a salaried GP and partner, she became a well known name by writing for the Huffington post and blogging about the challenges GPs were facing across the country.

Zoe took on the role of media lead for the online group GP Survival, while working in roles as a locum GP, GP appraiser, and lecturer for the NB Medical Hot Topics courses.

She is a sessional member of Humberside LMC, Yorkshire sessional representative, and was elected as Chair of the GPC UK sessional subcommittee in July last year.

She continues to support the online groups of GP Survival and Resilient GP, and is a columnist for Pulse.

Read her previous article blog: Practicing in a climate of fear.

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