1 General practitioners are failed brain surgeons. GPs are doctors, but there are doctors and there are doctors. A top-flight consultant physician to Her Majesty cannot be described as a GP.
2 There are very few GP millionaires, other than those that have won the lottery. If you toil away at a busy medical practice in Bolton, you can examine 1001 patients per day, but it will not make you rich. Not unless you ask your terminally-ill patients to make a will in your favour, but that is commonly regarded as unprofessional – for some reason.
3 Being a GP can be very stressful. You are always aware that there is a queue of moaning patients outside your door, who will never be satisfied, least of all when you palm them off with some cough medicine or a placebo, which is probably all that most of them deserve.
4 The average day of a GP can be very tedious. You are not going to perform life-saving surgery, nor are you going to appear on ITV – unless of course you give up being a real GP and start becoming a “celebrity” television doctor.
5 The hours are not good. You cannot knock off at 5.30pm or “pull a sickie” just because you are not in the mood for examining the throat of yet another hypochondriac, balding, middle-aged man. You have to plough on regardless, and often do so when other people are already enjoying themselves down the pub.
6 Although Mills & Boon have for many decades been promoting the myth that there is something terribly sexy and alluring about being a doctor, this is a misleading fabrication. The ability to syringe lugholes does not make you particularly attractive, other than to the person with wax-filled ears who will doubtless be very grateful – to a degree.
7 Being a GP can be a pretty thankless task. Although the odd patient may buy you a bottle of whisky at Christmas, most are ungrateful parasites who will take you for granted, however much you go out of your way to help them. Sorry.
8 GPs get sued. Being a GP is like being a soldier – 99% boredom and 1% very real excitement. The problem with being a GP, however, is recognising the 1% case for what it is. If you fob off someone with chest pains, telling them that they have indigestion, and they later die of a heart attack, you will be castigated.
9 GPs have to do horrible things. Imagine starting you day with the examination of every orifice of a smelly old tramp with piles. Faced with this prospect, you’ll wish you’d opted for a cushy office job, rather than medicine – you could be sitting at a clean desk with a croissant and a piping hot coffee – but you’re not.
10 Your employer and paymaster is effectively HM Government plc. This means that you are beholden to the capricious whims of politicians, who make up NHS policy as they go along and know very little about issues such as health and well-being…which is a bit worrying really.