In The Spotlight - Dr Mahibur Rahman, Portfolio GP & Medical Director of Emedica
How did you get into working as a portfolio GP? What was the motivation for working on an army base and in prisons?
I have always had an interest in medical education, having been involved with teaching medical students when I was a house officer. Once I started teaching more formally at Emedica, I knew that I wanted to keep teaching regularly as part of a portfolio career. Some of the other roles were not really planned – the opportunities just came up and I went for them. I had previously been involved in the sea cadets when I was a teenager, so I thought I would enjoy doing medical assessments on an army base. With prison work, I thought it would be an interesting role in a different setting, and a chance to use some of the things I learnt doing the RCGP Drug misuse certificate.
What’s your favourite thing about working as a portfolio GP?
I love the variety of work. I think it stops me getting burned out – they say “a change is as good as a rest!” and it really is for me. I think that doing different roles also helps me improve my skills in other areas. For example, to keep our MRCGP AKT course up to date, I go through all the key changes in guidelines as the course is updated 3 times every year – this helps me with my clinical work. Sometimes, prison work highlights some learning points as the range of pathology is different to routine practice. This can help in developing e-learning material for our online revision services. As I am doing different things all the time, I never get bored with any of them.
Do you have any tips for locums who would like to pursue portfolio GP work?
Make sure you do something because you really enjoy it, rather than for the money. Think about what additional skills and qualifications you might need for another role, and try to use your CPD time to put things in place – the right opportunity might not present itself straight away.
You’ve worked in areas of the country with high levels of deprivation, what do you find are the biggest challenges working with these patients?
Often patients will present with multiple problems, with expectations that they can all be sorted out in the same consultation. A lot of my patients do not speak English as their first language, so the consultations may involve a translator. This can make it quite challenging as even with a relatively straightforward problem, involving a translator affects the dynamics of the consultation as well as increasing the length of time required.
You seem dedicated to improving medical education, what led you into your research on interactive learning technologies?
I have always been interested in computers – from the days of my Amstrad CPC 464 to the Amiga and then my first PC. During medical school, I worked as part of a team that developed one of the first ever e-learning modules – covering otoscopy and common ear problems. I loved the whole process from the initial idea to planning, developing and testing the whole project. After my house jobs I received a scholarship to do a Masters degree in Health Informatics at UCL. At the time I was writing my dissertation, I was also working at a hospice. I decided to combine the two and develop a site to teach the principles of Cancer Pain Management[i]. This received excellent feedback and it just continued from there – since that time Emedica have developed online revision services for GP entry and MRCGP exams, an online course on GP Career Management, and I have worked on the GPeHub with Warwick Medical School and West Midlands Deanery.
What are you and Emedica working towards at the moment?
We are developing more CPD courses for qualified GPs – including a GP locum masterclass and a GP update course.
What does a typical working week look like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical week for me! In the winter I have a lot more teaching commitments as the MRCGP AKT, MRCGP CSA and the GP recruitment exams are all bunched together. In the summer, after all the exams are over, I increase my clinical commitments. As an example, this week I will be teaching at the West Midlands Leavers conference for a whole afternoon, doing my regular clinic on Friday in practice, covering a prison over the whole weekend for on call, and doing a locum session at a new practice early next week. The rest of the week I will be at Emedica preparing for our ‘Life after CCT’ course in June and developing some of the new courses.
Who has most influenced your career and why?
My parents. They encouraged me to pursue medicine, and always encouraged and supported me in everything I have done. My dad told me “It doesn’t matter what you do, just try to be the best at it” - and that has always stayed with me. At Emedica, we are always trying to improve our courses – we get feedback after every course, and try to take on suggestions for improvement. It seems to be working as last year, over 98% of course delegates rated the course “Good” or “Excellent” and over 97% said they would recommend us to colleagues.
What do you feel is the most important thing for General Practice?
I think that it is important that General Practice remains an attractive specialty for the next generation of doctors. More and more illnesses are being managed in the community, and I think that the opportunity to develop portfolio careers and have special interests are key attractions to young doctors.
What are your particular medical interests and why?
I worked in Orthopaedics and Trauma for a couple of years before becoming a GP. I still enjoy doing practical things – joint injections, aspirations, dealing with minor injuries. It is nice to see the impact this can have on a patient’s symptoms in a short amount of time. My favourite job before becoming a GP was working at the hospice. I loved the holistic nature of palliative care, and the teamwork was incredible. Everyone just gets on with doing anything they can to help make the patient more comfortable and less distressed. Seeing someone relax a little as their pain or nausea is reduced is really rewarding, and I have always maintained an interest in pain management and ‘end of life’ care.
Dr Mahibur Rahman is the medical director of Emedica and a portfolio GP. You can find out more about Emedica at www.emedica.co.uk