What did you want to be when you were at school? If it was different, why did you change your mind?
Lots of different things – an animator, a vet, an environmental health officer! I never considered a career in medicine until I was around 16/17 years old and in sixth form college doing my A Levels.
I took a trip around that time to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes as a helper – my Mum always credited this to me wanting to do medicine.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I still enjoy the variety of the role, and have always found getting to a diagnosis, especially a more obscure one, very satisfying. I work in great premises with a great team.
What makes you frustrated at work?
Usually IT issues – I have to work at speed to get through the volume of work and, if an IT issue slows me up, it is very frustrating. Being given a list of tasks to do by just about every other health care professional within the NHS, as if I am either a FY1 doctor or an administrator, is extremely frustrating and disrespectful of both my experience and seniority.
Why would you recommend your career to a young person? What positive aspects would you highlight?
Very few careers nowadays offer the security of medicine. Also, as a GP you can now have a portfolio career – I do undergraduate teaching and minor surgery/joint injections for example.
What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
Dealing with complaints has always challenged me, especially those involving clinical care as I strive hard for excellence in this area of practice. You do get a better understanding with age that medicine and humans are ultimately fallible.
What was your best career move?
Applying for, and getting, an SHO job in dermatology in Liverpool was a massive step outside my comfort zone but one that had a lasting impact on both my life and my career. I didn't know whether I would like dermatology and I knew no one in Liverpool, so it was a leap of faith.
But I ended up working with a fantastic team of people, with whom I remained in touch for many years afterwards, and it was a great lesson in the value of team-working. I also loved dermatology and have kept that as a special interest ever since.
Can you describe your work in 1 sentence?
I work with a team to provide excellent health care in the community.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
Patience, resilience and the ability to adapt – often very quickly – to the ever-changing primary care landscape.
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
Hard-working; tenacious; stubborn.
What is your personal mantra/survival strategy for general practice?
As far as possible, never take work home, and always make the most of your time outside of work.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Believe in yourself a bit more, and take a few more chances.
What do you do to relax/de-stress?
I have many interests – music, photography, film & television, cooking to name a few!
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
I have always strived for clinical excellence and hope that I will be remembered for that, as well as helping to develop the practice where I work into a place where people want to work and stay.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare - and why?
A dream – while part of me will miss work, I have plenty of things to keep myself occupied and suspect I will end up wondering, like many people, how I ever found the time to work!
On a typical day, what do you eat for lunch, where and how long is your break?
We have a staff common room where I usually take a break of around 30-45 minutes. What I eat varies – sometimes just some nuts and fruit, sometimes a sandwich.
Where are you happiest and why?
Anywhere outdoors – by the coast, on a walk, swimming etc. Being outdoors is very therapeutic for me.
Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor/other professional?
Not that I can think of, although it has been tough at times.
Your most treasured possession and why?
My vintage VW Campervan – it has taken me to many parts of the UK and provided me with a huge amount of pleasure and relaxation away from work.
Paul Reynolds is a GP in Ealing, west London. He completed his undergraduate medical degree at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London, qualifying in 1992. After pre-registration house officer jobs at Hillingdon Hospital, Greater London (medicine) and Wexham Park Hospital, Slough (surgery), he completed senior house officer jobs in A&E at the QE2 Hospital, Welwyn Garden City and in Dermatology at Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool.
He then moved into general practice, joining the East Herts GP vocational training scheme, and completing his GP training in 1997. After a brief period of working as a GP locum, he joined Elthorne Park Surgery as a GP Partner in 1998.