Mini-Retirements for GPs

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Post by Guest GP Columnist Dr Suria Beddoe.

Are you a thirty to forty something GP looking to inject a bit of adventure in your career? Maybe it's time to take a mini-retirement. Current pressures within the NHS have lead to constant reports of low morale amongst GPs. Yet many doctors that are managing to avoid burnout and add variety to their work by embarking on mini-retirements in their career.

I first came across the concept of the mini-retirement whilst reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.  Tim proposes the mini-retirement as a rejuvination of daily life rather than an escape from routine.  The wonderful thing about being a locum is it makes taking mini-retirements easier thanks to the flexibility of locum life.

So is it time you took a mini-retirement and revitalised your career? One of the most common ways to do this is by working abroad. I spoke to two doctors that have embraced the concept in the form of working in Australia and Canada in order to broaden their horizons and expand their skills.

retirement by 401(K) 2013, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by    401(K) 2013  

Dr Ankit Vakil is a GP working in Canada and had this to say:

 How easy was it to organise work abroad?

It's really easy and can be done through a recruitment agency. You can come and work as a short term locum (on average for 80-90 days). I found out about it through a BMJ careers fare.

More information can be found here http://apljobs.ca.

What are the main differences in working in Canada to the UK?

You are expected to manage lacerations, fractures and trauma. It's harder to see specialists so GPs are managing more specialist conditions. There is a better work life balance and work days tend to be shorter.

What skills do you feel you have learnt that you would bring back to benefit your NHS patients?

I feel I have an improved skill set in managing uncertainty, trauma and emergencies. My experience has also taught me how transferable my skills are in the global world of medicine.

Canadian Rockies - Lake Louise by HBarrison, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by    HBarrison  

Dr Brinthan Kanthan is a GP working in Brisbane, Australia:

What kind of work can a UK GP expect to find in Australia?

The work opportunities here are varied and range from hospital work in the cities to rural outback work where you are the only doctor for miles! Doctors can also work in Aboriginal communities where you see really interesting medicine and pathology.

What would your advice be on someone looking to organise a 'mini-retirement' abroad?

Find a job where you can maximise your earning whilst still giving you the flexibility to travel. Immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy your time away and do everything you set out to do.

Organising a mini retirement does not mean that you have to go abroad. Here are just a few ways you can take yours:

  • Vary your clinical work. A friend of mine left a full time salaried position to take up part time locum work alongside some regular sessions in a hospice. She is now cultivating her skill set in palliative care in general practice.
  • Use your experience to educate others - There are so many teaching opportunities. You can contact medical schools, liaise with GP programme directors or organisations such as the BMJ and BMA to contribute to talks on areas that interest you.
  • Interested in business or material roles? Contact your local CCG to find out what opportunities are available.

Good luck and happy (mini) retirement!

Jumping for joy by kilgarron, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by    kilgarron  

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