Funny how things work out. A couple of months ago I finally woke up in hospital accommodation in Orkney. The sun was shining, the sea was inviting - and I was full of the excitement of being exactly where I wanted to be! I'd also just rediscovered an email I'd sent to another trainee to ask about the rural track program, in 2014.........sometimes it just takes me a while to make up my mind....
My winding journey has taken in heroin addicts and street kids in Hong Kong and China; village medics on the Thai-Burma border; a TB program in Sudan; Syrian & Yazidi refugees in Greece.... I've been a med reg and an infectious diseases reg; and I've bound it all up with a lot of swimming outdoors, some running & walking, and a few solid friends that I've met along the way. I started flirting with GP-land back on the Thai-Burma border 6 or 7 years ago, and our relationship went something like this:
"I'm abroad! Ooh, look at all the exciting variety of conditions. I should do GP so that I can understand a bit of everything"
"I'm home. What am I doing here, I should go abroad again!"
"I'm abroad. Ooh, lots of stuff. I'd be more useful if I was a GP"
"I'm in the UK. What am I doing here, I should go abroad again!"
And so on....
And so on....
Until finally the circle of life caught me in a pincer grip and wouldn't let me go until I'd bitten the bullet: that rural GP program that I'd somehow stumbled on and been intermittently considering for years would give me a GP qualification; I'd be able to play in various areas of medicine and still have fun with procedures; I'd have a home base in between stints of overseas work; and I'd be able to swim and run my way around an exciting archipelago.
So here I am, surrounded by Neolithic sites and open sea. I'm seeing almost as much pathology as I'd see in a city teaching hospital - only somehow it seems to be more concentrated! - as well as having to think not only about transfers off our Mainland to the Scottish mainland when necessary, but also about transfers from the outer islands (or, for that matter, cruise ships) into our hospital (and back again). I think I'll be staying!
Dr Alison Lievesley, GPST Remote & Rural track Programme, based in Orkney