A route to a more satisfying career as a GP ?
Unfashionable tales: narratives about what is (still) great in NHS general practice
Background There is clear evidence that general practice has become a less popular career choice and among GPs there are high levels of dissatisfaction and demotivation. Little empirical evidence has emerged to indicate which factors contribute intrinsic value to the working lives of GPs and sustain their ongoing commitment.
Aim To understand which aspects of work continue to motivate and engage senior GPs by exploring their narrative accounts.
Design and setting This was part of a qualitative study in which senior GPs and hospital specialists contributed narratives in which they reflected on their working lives.
Method Individual, open interviews were conducted with eight GPs who had graduated in the early 1980s. Thematic analysis and situational analysis mapping were used to identify and connect related themes.
Results During interviews in which doctors drew on a wide range of encounters and experiences, they revealed which aspects of work were associated with greater intrinsic rewards and contributed to their continuing motivation. Having chosen careers that suited their preferred settings and working practices, they recounted adjustments made in response to new challenges and confirmed experiencing greater enjoyment when performing roles affirming their sense of providing valued health care.
Conclusion This study’s findings offer an alternative angle from which to consider the current unpopularity of general practice careers. The article proposes that long-term engagement of practitioners may be achieved through provision of adequate supportive resources to allow them to enact a sense of medical identity that matches with their acquired expectations of their role in the NHS.