The role of a GP can be daunting, but rewarding
While there are shortages right across medicine including within the hospital doctor group, there is a particular issue with general practice, where GP numbers continue to fall and training places can be hard to fill.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case.
Firstly, the increasing workload of GPs has been well documented. We know there are long waiting lists but a GP is still the first port of call for anyone who needs medical help - unless it's an absolute emergency - and we are continuing to see demand rise.
This also means as a doctor you can be presented with a very wide range of medical problems, so there is an ongoing challenge to keep abreast of medical developments and ensure you continually update your skills.
GPs are also small businesses as each practice is independently run - this side of the work as an employer, accountant, caretaker and IT manager can be daunting for anyone thinking of coming into the profession.
This means the traditional career model where you become a partner in the practice will have to be flexible and responsive to the new generation of young doctors.
So, the stresses of being a GP can appear to outweigh the benefits of what is actually a fantastically rewarding career, and one the we still highly recommend to young doctors and students.
The variety, the continuity and the flexibility can also provide some of the real positives to a career as a GP.
Dr Alan Stout is a GP partner at Greenway Practice in east Belfast and the chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee in Northern Ireland