I thoroughly enjoyed the RCGP Annual Conference and found that it gave me an excellent insight into what a career as a GP entails. My favourite sessions were those that addressed the wider social and planetary determinants of health and provided practical advice to improve care at an individual, practice and national level. Examples included health inequalities faced by patients of certain ages or in certain sociodemographic areas; how planetary health affects general practice and how to work towards a greener practice, and aspects of healthcare specific to LGBTQ+ populations. Having intercalated in global health and studied many of these topics in a more general way, these talks bridged the gap between my theoretical learning and practical, real-life interventions. They showed how general practice and global health go hand in hand and how I could be involved in both in my future career.
I found that all sessions were relevant to my practice both now as a student and in future as a doctor, and I will be taking everything I learned into my clinical practice no matter what specialty I am working in.
It was also fascinating and, I believe, hugely important to be able to attend the ‘NHS Question Time’ session, which involved a panel discussion of questions posed by the audience. It was highly political in nature and explored a side of medicine and general practice not explored in medical school. It was perhaps particularly educational this year given the pressures on healthcare and general practice exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. It further gave panellists an opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of being a GP, both now and looking to the future.
Overall the RCGP conference was educational and inspiring, showing the huge variety of work involved in a career as a GP while acknowledging current challenges faced by patients and GPs, and how to counter those challenges. It highlighted the many wonderful reasons why general practice is a brilliant specialty and explored health and healthcare in a holistic way, addressing factors often not addressed in medical school. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to attend.