"Today is a beautiful, sunny, balmy autumn day, my windows are all open and I can look out onto the hills which in a few weeks' time might start to have a bit of snow on them - hard to believe at the moment that in a month's time I might be dusting off my skis and heading for the Cairngorms.
My name is Katie and I am a GP in Inverness - I came here for GP training 6 years ago in search of the next adventure: I came for the wilderness on your doorstep, the mountains and sea and rivers and woods, for the fact that you can live in a city with all the pros of restaurants, cafs and a cinema, and yet be out of town on your bike in 10 minutes into remote countryside.
I got much, much more than I bargained for - lots of like-minded friends (many of them non-medics), a sea-kayak, some outdoors kit which is actually waterproof. My skis, walking boots and tent have all had a good battering, and I now have a stable of bicycles - one for every occasion! I have cycled high (over the Bealach na Ba pass to Applecross - stunning and an excellent pint in the pub by the sea the other end of it) and low (along the A9 in a semi-blizzard - not much fun at the time, but very memorable), and around (the whole of the North of Scotland, Skye, Ardnamurchan, the Mull of Kintyre...) and there are still so many places to go - and that's only on the road bike.
I now work 3 days a week as a partner in an Inverness practice, having locumed across the Highlands after finishing my training - something I'd highly recommend. Rural practice is extremely rewarding, as you get to know your community and patients really well, and have to use all your generalist skills and some. I love the fact that you see the seasons changing in technicolor - many a memorable drive up the glen to a home visit on a glorious crisp winter day, and a great feeling of camaraderie on arriving to a snowy work place with wellies dripping across the surgery floor. I locumed on Tiree, a small island off the west coast, where I first got to try surfing (though not while on duty!), and I worked in Orkney for a time as one of the rural hospital GPs, a fantastic job in an amazing place, stuffed full of archaeology, stunning views, the best tiny bookshop in the world, a great arts centre, lots of islands to explore.
I feel very settled in Inverness now after a life of moving around - I have found somewhere to live where there is always something to do outside, and usually someone else who is up for a spot of adventure to tag along with. I have done a heap of things I would never have done otherwise - learnt to kayak, started to learn how to climb, gone ski-touring... I have found it an exceptionally friendly and welcoming place, arriving here as an English woman not knowing a single person. Although Inverness is quite a long way away from my old life down South, it has good travel connections, so that I am only ever a train ride from a night out in London, Edinburgh or Glasgow. There is a fantastic cinema and arts centre here, and lots of live music as well. Good for families, good for single people as well though.
I definitely feel part of the medical community in the Highlands and am so glad, speaking to friends elsewhere in the country, that I trained and now work in general practice in Scotland. My family all joke that I spend my life on holiday - so it would seem to them perhaps, although most of the time it is just squeezing lots of adventure into my normal working week. The other day I went sea-kayaking with friends off the West coast one Wednesday evening after work. We were back by midnight, and in those 6 hours we had paddled in the most amazing scenery, seen lots of seals, had a leisurely drink in the pub listening to some fiddlers then pottled home with our designated driver enduring a concert of snores in the car. The work-life balance here is pretty hard to beat.