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5 Preventable Career Mistakes to Avoid as a General Practitioner

areer Mistakes

There are a lot of reasons doctors choose General Practice as a career. Some of the most common ones we hear include:

– Family friendly work hours
– Mixed caseload
– Stability
– Regular income
– Getting to know patients
– Being part of a community

Once you’ve received your coveted FRACGP or FACRRM (or maybe you already have VR status), there are a lot of options for you in terms of working as a GP – either taking up a permanent position, or working as a GP locum.

I have been working in medical recruitment for over ten years, and I’ve helped a lot of GPs find new positions during that time. Often, though, they come to us after they have already had a negative career experience.

So, here are the top five preventable career mistakes we suggest you avoid:

1. Failing to think strategically

Your career is likely going to go for a long time, and general practitioners in particular tend to retire late. During the breadth of your career you are going to experience a number of jobs in different places. Some of these jobs you’ll love, and most likely, some you will hate.

Before accepting a position, consider your overall career path. Does the position add value to what you’re hoping to achieve overall? Does it align with your values?

For example, if one of your values is quality care, is a practice that puts pressure on you to see a patient every five minutes going to be the best place for you?

2. Having a bad quality CV

I’m going to say it – doctors are bad at CVs. If you disagree with me, send me your CV. I realise this is pretty harsh, and it’s true that it isn’t always the case.

However, over the thousands of CVs I’ve seen over the year, not many of them would cut the standard required for many employers. On that topic, more and more employers are requiring up to date records of your CME, CPR training, and copies of all of your qualifications. Make sure you’ve got them all in good order in a safe place.

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to fix. There are a number of resources on this very blog about CV writing, and as professional recruiters we love to help GPs fix up their CVs. All you need to do is ask!  You also might be interested in the 7 Obvious Mistakes Doctors Make On Their CVs

3. Misunderstanding the role of a recruitment agency

A good GP recruitment agency ought to work for you to find you a position that suits exactly (or as close to that) what you want and need. Of course, what is available depends on market conditions. However, a recruitment consultant needs to do more than just present you with a list of vacancies.

When it comes to permanent or locum GP positions, your recruitment agency should take the time and effort to get to know you and what your unique needs are. A recruitment agency is much more than just the current vacancies on its website.

A professional recruiter should add value to your career – providing you with options you may not have already considered, or you can’t just find yourself. They are your advocate, your negotiator, and sometimes your educator (when it comes to career management). If you are working with a recruiter who can’t or doesn’t provide this level of service, reconsider whether they are right for you.

4. Not knowing what your options are

Being a GP means that you have a multitude of options when it comes to where to work, what you’ll do, and how often you work. Of course, the path you take will determine how much you’re paid as well.

So many GPs we work with don’t have a good idea of what their options for their next job could be.

As a procedural GP, you might want to work in a remote area providing emergency, O&G or anaesthetics support. Alternatively, you might prefer to work in a suburban family practice.

However, have you considered a mix of different options? Perhaps you could work a couple of days a week in an ED, and the rest of the week in a practice. Maybe you’d like to spend more time travelling as a locum?

We work with GPs in family practices (small, large, corporate, superclinics), corporate health, aged care, on Australian Defence Force bases, in hospitals, overseas on peacekeeping missions, on vessels (and other offshore installations), and other locations you may not ever imagine working.

It’s important to at least consider all of the options that are open to you, and integrate them into your overall career plan.

5. All that glitters is not gold

Insofar as choosing a job, it turns out WS was right:

“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold…”

– The Merchant of Venice

It’s pretty easy for practice owners and managers to put on smiles and spruce up the place a bit for a potential new GP. What lies beneath may be something else altogether – a potential employer might have systemic issues, a negative work culture, bad finances, or may be simply wrong for you. Listen to your gut, and don’t overlook things that make you feel uneasy. Choosing a job (even if it’s a locum job) is a big step – don’t rush it.

Create some of your own ‘mandatory criteria’ for potential jobs – and don’t break them whatever you do.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of potential pitfalls for GPs, this might serve as a guide for future job applications and determining your career direction.

Beat Medical provides free strategic career services to candidates, as part of a professional, effective recruitment solution. Call us today or upload your CV to get started

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