I wanted to be that person – Sandesh Gulhane

Scotland is my adopted home, and it is definitely true that people make Glasgow.

Everyone is so friendly, people actually give way to you when you’re driving, and nobody pushes past you in a frantic rush to get five steps ahead on the Clockwork Orange. This is the total opposite to London, where I was born, grew up and educated.

My name is Sandesh Gulhane and I am a GPST3. My job has allowed me to move all over the UK, and it finally brought me to Glasgow where I’ve settled down. My working life is varied as I combine my training with being co-chair of the BMA GP trainees committee, and I am the club doctor for Queen’s Park!

On top of all of that, I also do TV and radio work, talking about medicine and being a GP, and what little time is left is spent with my five-year-old who needs a Daddy taxi service for his packed social calendar! Oh yeah, there is also my two-year-old cockapoo who always seems keenest on going for a walk when it is raining, which it does a lot in Glasgow!

I had wanted to be a doctor since I was five and was fascinated about the human body, but had a difficult choice to make at 18 whether I continued this path or chose to be a fighter pilot for the RAF.

I decided that flying planes is very cool but being a doctor was my chance to fix people and give back to the community. I understand this is a cliché, but when I saw my grandfather ill in hospital I was in awe of these people rushing around, trying to make him better and they seemed to know everything.

I wanted to be that person.

I was an orthopaedic doctor and had been a registrar for many, many years prior to switching to training to be a GP. Whilst orthopaedics is a brilliant speciality, I found it all encompassing and it took me away from my young family.

General Practice is such a vast and open speciality, allowing doctors to have a portfolio career; you can run a business, be flexible, choose to specialise in other subjects like dermatology or orthopaedics and to truly express yourself. I have no regrets jumping ship and would encourage anyone who is thinking about General Practice to get a taster at least in foundation years and throw yourself into a world where you truly care for patients from cradle to grave.

As a doctor I feel that I have had many challenges to face, from the MMC redesign of training to having to move regions every two to three years. As an orthopod who was completely out of touch with medicine I am also particularly proud of how I have progressed with my medical knowledge and progressed through my jobs and passed my GP exams. I am at the very start of my career as a GP, and I feel that the experience of working with the BMA and being a football doctor gives me good building blocks for the future.

One of the best things about being a doctor, in any speciality, is the smile and thank you patients give me after I’ve been caring for them. It’s such a little thing, but it’s so rewarding. I once even got a thank you card from a patient too!

I also find that getting patients out of pain is extremely rewarding too. I had a lady who was all but incapacitated from shoulder pain and could not drive or lift her arm, but an injection later and she seemed to be a new woman.

For everyone thinking of medicine as a career I have only three words for you…just do it.

We are so lucky in this country to have such importance placed upon education and medicine is a meritocracy; if you are good enough you can do anything you want.

Do not believe the headlines that will tell say doctors are stinking rich; we are not. However, we are comfortable and I am confident that there is a career path within medicine for all personality types and likes. We need a diversity of doctors and a celebration of backgrounds to ensure that the brightest and best have the chance to become doctors.

If you get the grades and are willing to work really, really hard at medical school, and beyond, then you are one of the best.

My personal inspiration in medicine was an orthopaedic consultant who took me under his wing when I was having a tough time and showed me what truly great teaching infused with a shot of confidence does for someone. He made me feel as though I was a great surgeon and let me make mistakes and forced me to think my way out of them.

He made me aware of the system of the NHS and I have modelled my teaching style and approach to others in the healthcare team after him. He continues to give me advice even though it has been years since I worked for him. His name is Mr. Patil and I am very grateful for everything he has taught me.

Being a doctor in Scotland allows me to meet such a large variety of people who have such vastly differing healthcare needs. There Is also a really special relationship between doctors and their patients here and I often find myself being asked for advice that is completely out with of medicine, such as a lady asking if she should buy a flat or continue to rent!

Medicine should be fun and the team I work with in GP makes it fun again; they treat me as an individual not a rota filler. Being a GP is all about building relationships and making connections, to the point we are examined in how we interact with patients.

To anybody thinking of being a GP, put aside the prejudice you may have heard of “only a GP”, of “this referral is rubbish…typical GP” and get a taster of what life outside hospital. Then apply for the most varied, flexible and interesting career out there at the moment.