Meet patients and make diagnoses based on symptoms, case history and patient feedback.
- Prescribe medicines to treat speciﬁc conditions.
- Administer general health and lifestyle advice to prevent illness and/or speed up recovery.
- Recommend and refer patients for further tests or treatment with other specialists for conditions that are not treatable by a GP.
- Administrative duties such as writing sick notes, updating patient records and writing referrals.
Got the necessary skills?
Working as a GP is a challenging and rewarding role, and is suited only to high academic achievers who also have good social skills. Other essential skills include:
- An excellent long-term factual memory.
- An ability to analyse complex problems.
- A natural empathy and a desire to help people.
- The ability to work under extreme pressure in less than ideal circumstances.
- Conﬁdence when making tough decisions.
- High levels of numeracy and mathematical ability.
How to gain experience?
GPs gain most of the clinical experience they need while being undergraduates and, later postgraduate medical students. Useful experience could also be gained by getting involved in medical or community-building charity work in disadvantaged areas of Malaysia or the rest of the world.
What are the qualifications needed?
Becoming a GP in Malaysia could take from a minimum of six years to 10 years to accomplish, which generally comprises ﬁve years at medical school and ﬁve years of on-the-job training. To qualify for medical school, excellent results in SPM or O-Level/STPM or A-Level/matriculation are required. Competition for places at medical schools is generally tough, and prospective students must demonstrate a high level of academic ability. Medical school graduates then have to work in a general hospital for two years, where they are exposed to a number of different medical specialties.
Once this period is complete, recent graduates must then choose a specialty. To become a GP, the graduate must study ‘Specialist Training in General Practice’ which takes around three years to complete. Here the trainee will rotate through a number of specialist areas such as pediatrics, psychiatry and general medicine. During this period frequent assessments are undertaken. All GPs are required to further their skills throughout their careers by completing specialist courses and keeping themselves up-to-date on developments in medicine. For a list of universities offering courses in Health and Medicine, go to http://bit.ly/ StudyMedicine
Facts to know
- The average GP consultation lasts just seven minutes (sometimes less!). So it’s little wonder two- thirds of us believe appointments with the doctor feel too rushed or cut short.
- How to get the best out of your session with your GP? Here are some points to consider the next time you visit a doctor
- Do not be shy about what went wrong – Doctors are a professionally trained bunch, so there is absolutely nothing to feel shy about. Tell your doctor every single symptom that you have felt.
- Keep track of symptoms with a diary – For recurrent problems such as tummy aches or headaches, note what time of day the symptoms emerge, what you are doing and what you have eaten. It can help with an accurate diagnosis. Ideally, keep a diary for two weeks.
- When asking for a referral, make your GP feel like he (or she) is the boss – More often than not, GPs are easily irked with their patients if the latter comes in and says that they want referrals or prescriptions. As he is the doctor, the GP decides if you need a referral or prescription. The key is to make your GP think it was their idea. So use phrases such as “Are there any other tests I could have that only a specialist could perform?” or “Do I have any unusual symptoms that a specialist might help with?”
- Always get to the point when addressing your problem – In order not to waste anyone’s time (especially your doctor’s precious hours), always get to the point when you are discussing your health issues. Also, admit you have not been taking your medication, because if symptoms continue your doctor might think he made the wrong diagnosis.