Personal Views

I should have been more selfish

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 07 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:957

I am 51, a female general practitioner, married to a consultant physician for nearly 25 years. We have three children. I have been with the same practice for 18 years. I am also clinically depressed and all the preceding facts are contributory.

Depression in a middle aged woman is a common phenomenon and any gynaecologist will tell you about the empty nest syndrome and hormone changes, but there is more than this in my case. I think the fact that I have been with the same general practice for so long is a major contributing factor. Over that time I have built up good relationships with many patients and their families and the local community. I have seen children born and grow up, have seen families through tragedy and bereavement. I know some of them well and, equally importantly, they know me. A consultation with a patient I have known for 17 years is different from one with a new patient.

But where else in the health service is it an advantage to stay in one place for so long? I recently heard someone from the family health services authority say that she really ought to be looking for a new post as she had been there a full three years. Another official was accused of lacking …

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