GP launches online campaign to promote general practice asking #whyGPBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4167 (Published 30 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4167
A GP has launched an online campaign to highlight the positive aspects of a career in general practice.
Dominic Patterson, a GP and deputy director for postgraduate GP education in Yorkshire and the Humber, has launched the hashtag #whyGP on Twitter and the WhyGP website (http://whygp.uk), to encourage more junior doctors to enter the profession.
Speaking to BMJ Careers, Patterson said that he launched the campaign after seeing the Royal College of General Practitioners’ recruitment video (www.rcgp.org.uk/policy/future-gp.aspx), which he thought failed to connect with its intended audience. He said, “There were lots of trainees saying to me, ‘What’s this, and how is it going to attract people to the profession?’”
He added, “I sit on RCGP Council, and I hear a lot of the rhetoric around how tough it is [to be a GP] and how general practice is in crisis. If I was somebody thinking about a career in general practice, I think I would be struggling to see what the positives might be and what the upsides are.
“I was confident that there definitely are positives and upsides. But from a personal point of view, and from talking to friends, I could see that that message wasn’t getting across.”
Patterson said that his original idea was to create his own video, featuring clips of GPs explaining why they loved the profession. After asking local trainees for ideas, Patterson said that he was so encouraged by the response that he decided it would be better to spread the message online and on social media.
After he launched the #whyGP hashtag, the GP Jenifer Warner tweeted, “#whyGP because people are still more interesting than results.” David Shepherd, a GP trainer, said, “#whyGP because it’s full of fascinating paradoxes. Yesterday I treated someone’s pain successfully by stopping their painkiller patch.”
Patterson said that he thought it important that the positive side of general practice was highlighted, because organisations such as the royal college and the BMA so often talked about negative aspects, such as the rising workload and recruitment problems. “Those [negative] things have to be said, because they are true,” Patterson said. “However, it’s the sort of thing that is going to put people off.”
He added, “I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be saying that, and I’m not saying that the message is incorrect. I’m saying: ‘What do they put in their positive column? Where are we hearing the positives?’ So it’s a counter-argument and a counter-voice to all of the [negative] stuff.
“I think the better message is: general practice is really hard; it always has been and always will be. At the moment it is particularly hard, but it is incredibly rewarding. Challenging but rewarding, and a really valuable career to pursue.”
Dominic Patterson tweets as @DocDomP, Jenifer Warner as @JeniferWarner, and David Shepherd as @davesheph.