Letter: Brightest and best can be good GPs

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The Independent Online
Letter: Brightest and best can be good GPs

Sir: Jeremy Laurance ("Doctor, doctor, you're not on my wavelength", 20 August) suggests that medical schools should lower their admission criteria to let in the sort of people who will not be bored as GPs.

He clearly does not have much idea about what GPs do. We are expected to know almost as much about any topic in medicine as a consultant who specialises in nothing else, and to explain it to the patient so that they understand it. We have to make diagnoses using our own senses and a few simple instruments, without the back-up of hugely expensive laboratory and X-ray departments. We don't know whether the next patient through the door will have a cold, a major psychiatric illness or a rare disease we haven't heard of since medical school. We also have to empathise with patients, counsel them and act as their advocate in dealings with the NHS, social services and housing departments.

General practice may be exhausting, frustrating and sometimes deeply satisfying, but it is rarely boring. By all means select surgeons with nimble fingers, psychiatrists who like talking to people and pathologists with no sense of smell, but please let us keep some bright students to turn into skilled, empathic GPs.


Postgraduate Tutor in

General Practice

Stockport, Greater Manchester