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Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift. And then some one says: “Sorry….. but are you really a doctor?”
Penny Wilson burst onto the scene a few years back when an article that she wrote on her NomadicGP blog hit a nerve. The nerve in question is about sexism and misogyny. It was about people not believing that Penny was a doctor because she was a young woman. She wrote about it and a lot of people read it. She had only been writing the blog for 6 months and BANG she is on the Huffington Post. Then comes the backlash.
Only a few months later she is back in the Huffington Post wrestling with another significant prejudice. “Are you a specialist or are you just a GP?”
Penny and I have a talk about her life being “just a GP” in which she does almost no work that most folks would recognise as “just a GP” kind of work. She is some sort of Obstetrician/Emergency Physician Hybrid about 8 hours flight from the ivory towers of Perth in Western Australia. It is frightening stuff. I am certainly a bit scared of obstetric emergencies. Maybe you are? Maybe you’re not? Maybe you know everything there is to know about it? Maybe you don’t? Penny has tried to get a #FOAMed resource up and running for O&G, ObGyn, Obs & Gobs, Obstetrics & Gynaecology; the fabulously named https://bitsandbumps.org
I hate the phrase “just a GP”. It underestimates the work of GPs. It undermines the specialty of General Practice. It has undertones of elitism and snobbery. Being a good GP is one of the hardest jobs in Medicine. There is no limit to what you need to know. There is no way you can be an expert in everything. Ask any specialist who has retrained as a GP? (Ask yourself if they are one of the good GP’s I am talking about?)
I have tried it and I can tell you that almost every time you see a patient with a given problem something will have changed from the last time you dealt with it. Either the tests have changed, or the medications have changed, or the guidelines have changed, or the evidence has changed, or the alternative therapies have changed, or the support services have changed, or the referral destinations have changed, or the government forms you have to fill out have changed or the way you and your practice gets paid has changed.
As Heraclitus said; “No woman ever steps in the same river twice…”
When you meet Penny you don’t get the impression that she is out to cause trouble. She is just commenting on this stuff from a personal and important perspective. That didn’t mean that she didn’t get attacked though.
Have a listen to Penny and then have a listen to Bob.