GP Doctor: What is a GP Doctor and What Do They Do?

A general practice (GP) doctor is the first healthcare professional that a patient typically sees when they need medical attention. As such, they have an integral role in getting patients the treatment they need. General Practitioners also treat all kinds of medical conditions and can refer patients to hospitals and other medical professionals for specialist treatment. 

A GP doctor essentially focuses on your overall health – physical and mental health. They also often develop an ongoing relationship with you, such that they provide continuity in case. They also serve as an important part of the larger healthcare system, with their goals being to keep you and your family healthy and out of hospital. 

In this article, we will delve into the multifaceted role of GP doctors, exploring their responsibilities, training, and the crucial role they play in maintaining your health.

What does a GP Doctor Do?

General Practitioners serve as the foundation of primary care, providing a wide range of medical services to individuals of all ages. Their scope of practice encompasses preventive care, routine check-ups, and the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses. 

Their day-to-day duties include assessing patients through a physical exam and reviewing medical history. From there, they may order extra tests, recommend specialists or treatments, and connect you with other healthcare professionals. In emergencies, GPs provide life-saving treatment until emergency health services arrive. 

GP doctors such as are part of a wider team in the healthcare system that prevents, promotes, and provides treatments. This means that GPs are trained to address a variety of medical concerns, offering a holistic approach to patient care that considers both physical and mental well-being.

Other examples of the kind of care you can expect from your GP doctor include: 

Diagnosis and Treatment

One of the defining roles of GPs is diagnosing and treating a broad spectrum of medical conditions. From minor illnesses such as colds and flu to chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, GPs are equipped to handle a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. Their ability to provide comprehensive and integrated care is particularly valuable in managing patients with multiple health issues.

An equally important role of GPs is treating injuries. GP doctors can treat serious injuries, or attend to the injuries as you wait for emergency services. 

Mental Health Checks

General Practitioners are trained to view patients in a holistic manner, taking into account not only their physical symptoms but also considering the social, psychological, and environmental factors that may impact their health. This holistic approach allows GPs to develop personalised treatment plans that address the root causes of health issues and promote overall well-being.

Routine Medical Exams

Preventive medicine is a cornerstone of general practice. GPs are trained to be proactive in promoting health and wellness, conducting routine screenings, immunisations, and providing lifestyle advice to prevent the onset of illnesses. Through regular check-ups and patient education, GPs contribute significantly to reducing the burden of preventable diseases within their communities.

If you have a family history of chronic conditions, are at risk of developing a chronic condition, or are simply experiencing symptoms, your GP doctor can screen you for a variety of conditions, which will benefit your health and peace of mind.

Long-Term Care

One of the unique aspects of general practice is the emphasis on building long-term relationships with patients. GPs often care for individuals and families over extended periods, allowing them to develop a deep understanding of their patients’ medical histories, preferences, and values. This continuity of care fosters trust and enables GPs to provide more personalised and effective treatment.

Coordination of Care

GPs play a crucial role in coordinating care for patients who may require services from specialists, hospitals, or other healthcare providers. They act as the central point of contact, ensuring that different aspects of a patient’s care are integrated and well-managed. This coordination is essential for delivering efficient and effective healthcare services.

Training and Education Required for General Practitioners

Becoming a General Practitioner involves rigorous training and education. Typically, students need excellent GCSEs and pass a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine. After completing medical school, individuals interested in general practice undergo GP specialty training (GPST) training that typically lasts for two to four years, and includes placements in different settings. 

This training provides a broad foundation in various medical specialties, preparing GPs to diagnose and manage a wide range of health conditions. Continuous medical education is also a fundamental aspect of a GP’s career, allowing them to stay updated on the latest medical advancements and best practices.

In Closing

General Practitioners have an integral role in healthcare systems worldwide, providing comprehensive, patient-centred care. Their role involves diagnosis and treatment, wellness exams, mental health checks, and the treatment and management of a diverse range of medical conditions. 

Through their approach to building long-term relationships with patients, GPs contribute to the overall well-being of individuals and their families. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, the importance of GPs in delivering accessible and high-quality healthcare remains paramount.

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