Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Another view from the other end...

Another view from the other end...

It was an ordinary Friday afternoon in an ordinary surgery in the North of Scotland. I looked down to the latter part of the surgery list and just knew that Tony (not his real name) would be a DNA. Now, just to avoid confusion with acronyms, I mean “Did Not Attend” rather than Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Often, the very mention of DNA raises howls of indignation and tabloid accusations of ingratitude but Tony had a very good reason for not attending. He was dead. He’d died 2 weeks before and this was a legacy appointment, made some 4 weeks ago. Somewhat selfishly, I left the appointment in place (given that it was only 20 minutes away at the time) and used the time to think of Tony. He and I go back a long, long way. In fact I first met him when I was in my hospital training as an SHO (the old equivalent of a GPST2) in 1984 and I still have a letter from myself in his GP notes to prove it. It was fascinating to pause and think of how much our world has changed in a generation and a half, both medically and socially.

I knew that Tony would thoroughly approve of the fact that he’s inadvertently given me a “flanker”* and a wee bit of extra time to cope with my notoriously over-running surgeries. He was always one to champion the “wee man” in life, not in a rebellious flag bearing way, but if he could stick two fingers up at overbearing self-important authority, he would. Interestingly, he always counted me amongst those who stood up for the angry, the lonely and the dispossessed. I valued that greatly. He even forgave me being an Aberdeen supporter against his own background of a diehard “Sellick”** supporter. Tony was no angel and had a pretty chequered history in his younger days but had mellowed substantially with age and wisdom. Happily, for him, his death was sudden and unpredicted, exactly how he’s told me he wanted it. Out of respect for Tony, I did take the time to think back over such a long association rather than catch up. It’s one of those moments which define General Practice and what makes it so special. I’ve been immensely privileged to be part of his life rather than simply his medical adviser.

I’ll miss him.

*“Flanker”- In Scots slang- it’s generally a non-malicious trick or sleight to gain a small advantage.

**”Sellick”- the West of Scotland phonetic pronunciation of Glasgow Celtic FC, where the letter T is routinely dropped from words.

Alex Thain (older GP...)

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

GPST Recruitment Round 2 For February 2017 Start

Scotland is offering approximately 100 places in Round 2 of GPST recruitment for a February 2017 start to training.  Of these 100 places 6 are in the North of Scotland, 3 in the Caledonian Program and 3 in the Grampian Program.  We are currently finalising these rotations and will publish details as soon as we have them.

The timeline for recruitment is as follows:-

Apply from 9 August 2016 {10:00am UK Time}
Closing Date 25 August 2016 {4:00pm UK Time}
Invitations to Specialty Recruitment Assessment Expected by No later than 2 September 2016
Specialty Recruitment Assessment 10-13 September 2016
Specialty Recruitment Assessment Results Expected by No later than 16 September 2016
Invitations to Selection Centre (Interview) Expected by No later than 16 September 2016
Selection Centre Window 26-27 September 2016
First offers from (n.b. by 5:00pm) 03-Oct-16
Hold Deadline 6 October 2016 {1:00pm UK time}
Upgrade Deadline 7 October 2016 {4:00pm UK time}

Further details on applications are available on

Friday, 8 July 2016

Scotland's Winter Playground

Fancy having this on your doorstep?  Glenccoe is just along the road from both Oban and Fort William two centres on our Rural Track GP training scheme. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Summer In Shetland

Catherine Brown has shared her thoughts about her decision to join the Rural Track GP Training Scheme on Shetland and about her life there. Follow the link to her blog to read more.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


The Aviemore practice on Speyside is one of the training practices on our Caledonian program, and don't worry, they don't all cycle like this!  If you are into the outdoors, whether it be cycling, hill walking, climbing or skiing, Aviemore has it all.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Life As A Shetland GP

Susan Bowie is a GP in Hillswick, Northmavine. Here’s a short video portrait of her everyday life and work in one of the most beautiful parts of the North of Scotland

 http://www.shetland.org/discover/live... As she says, while navigating her way from patient to patient past Shetland ponies and extraordinary views: “I came here for six months. I ended up staying 32 years.”  So why not consider taking that same leap and join the Scottish Rural Track Program.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Scottish Rural Track GP Training Scheme

Stuck in clearing? Well this blog (hopefully) will give a view on Scotland’s Rural Track GP training scheme.

Usually its 4 year long package, but can be reduced to 3 ½ (if you lose the OOPE – out of practice experience), my training will however be 4 ½ years as I’m planning for a year in Africa. Some people might be put off by the extra time, but it gives you longer to pass the exams and I think more experience in training will only make you a better GP. Personal things do happen, and we’re lucky to have a very understanding deanery.

GPs in Scotland (I think) have more options than GPs in England, I am very interested in the role of RPs (rural practitioners) that provide an A+E service in some of the rural hospitals, I have already made a good network of doctors in this field and as such know how to get the most out of my training to prepare for this. I have already completed ALS, ATLS, PILS, NILS, 2 x Basics (Pre hospital care) courses, and am lining up for a TEAMS (intubation and RSI) course next year. My next 3 GP placement days will include a day with the contraception nurse, a day with the ambulance service and a day in the rescue helicopter.

I also know many other doctors that have interests in Diving Medicine, Mountain rescue, Coastguard and even Dolphin Rescue (... if that’s your thing!).

The main attraction for me would be that as a rural GP in Scotland you’re a real part of the community, and can provide a good service to those needing it. Continuity of care seems to be easier to achieve than in the rest of the UK which is the real charm of the job.

The community life is wonderful. It’s still possible to hitch a lift up here (why can’t you do this in England?). Once I was offered a lift and in the first 15 minutes, was offered Sunday lunch, an invitation to church and also to meet the guy’s daughter. I also think it’s very funny when the ferry gets cancelled due to bad weather, and every one panic buys as if nuclear war was about to break out! (...my sense of humour is weird). I would suggest an ability to mix in outside of the job is very important, (...for me, this is fiddling).

This aside – life is relaxed, and the staff up here reflect this (most of the time!). Some of your time will be spent at Raigmore Hospital Inverness, not perfect, but a very friendly place to work in. At least you won’t be on a picket line, as no one is trying to impose any contract in Scotland.

Rural Scotland isn't the most lively of places all the time. If your idea of heaven is an afternoon shopping followed by a visit to the theatre, then this probably isn't for you. But, we have the famous Heb Celt festival, Up Helly Aa, Belladrome, The Feis and the less famous music sessions at the Criterion Pub (Stornoway) which equals sessions anywhere in the world.

If your passion is the outdoors then you should have applied already!

A balanced view must include everything, and as much as I love the outdoors, the weather is usually bad to very bad, and on occasion dangerous. The A+E rota at Raigmore isn't life friendly (but where is?) and the reflection aspect of the GP portfolio doesn't suit me.

However, the rural track program is still a very good package, I have met people who I’ll probably keep in touch with the rest of my life. It allows you to play a real part in a real community, and also provides an insight to some of the more adrenaline charged branches of being a GP.

In short – medicine, with a twist.

(See you soon?)