Looking After You Too Case Study: Salaried GP

Role and Context

The Salaried GP works part-time in rural Cambridgeshire practice that serves about 13,000 patients in the local community.  They have recently returned to the practice after a period of maternity leave.  At the time of the conversation, the Salaried GP had decided to leave this practice, and had found a new part-time role at another local surgery starting later in the year.  Their current contracted hours at the practice are between 8:30am – 6:30pm.  They also work 3 sessions a week delivering GP teaching for a local medical school. 

Challenge of Covid-19 on own wellbeing

At the beginning of the pandemic the Salaried GP described how “everything changed” as patient care swiftly changed to a telephone system.  It was suggested by the GP Partners that they worked from home as at that time little was known about Covid-19 and pregnancy.  They found this experience as being “locked away in my house” and although video-call meetings initially occurred every morning, over time they became less frequent which led to feelings of isolation.

“They started to drop the meetings, and I found things harder because I found myself at home and I didn’t see anyone.  I missed people, and I missed being part of a team”

On returning to work, patient consultations are still predominantly over the phone, which they feel comfortable with, but patient demands are still very high.  They find that with phone consultations there is no ‘natural stop that you can have when actually seeing patients’ which can mean that they work continuously through the day with few breaks.  In addition, there is the perception that the ‘thank you’s and patient appreciation that was there at the beginning of the pandemic for what GPs are doing’ has gone, which made the heavy workload harder to maintain. As a result, the pandemic has made them realise they wanted to drop a GP session to improve their wellbeing, both at work and in their personal life.

“The pandemic made me realise that I am always just so pushed a bit of a workaholic, and that actually I wanted to work a bit less.”

“My mental wellbeing was just a bit bashed by everything.  I was feeling a lot of guilt about dropping a session during the pandemic.”

How Looking After You Too coaching helped

The Salaried GP felt that the coaching came at the right time as ‘going back to work after a baby and in a pandemic was stressful, and it was the first time I had felt vulnerable and actually said I need some help with this.’  The coach helped them to identify that it was ok for them to set themselves some boundaries, and to stick to them. This helped them when applying for their new role in understanding what work contract and hours would work best for them.

“I went into the interview with the coach’s words in my head, saying this is what I can do, and this is what I am available for.  I was able to really hold that line because of the coaching.”  

The coach provided a range of wellbeing techniques to help the Salaried GP.  The first was to understand the relationship between the older brain (used in work situations) and the younger brain (desperate to please) and coached them to understand to use their older brain to re-assure themselves that their bounded actions are good enough.  The coach also recognised that the GP had a tendency to ‘lean in’ and ‘offer everything´.  They have now been coached to physically sit back and engage a listening mindset. In addition, they discussed a ‘take a breath’ technique, which helped them to absorb information given to them and take ownership of the conversation and gave them time to take control and clarify what they would like to happen, and plan where the conversation went.

“In difficult situations I have now felt like the coach was just behind me, nudging me slightly. It’s like magic because it helps you use the resources that you have inside you.”

Impact of the coaching

The Salaried GP had never had coaching before but believes ‘everyone should have it’.  They hope that the coaching will help them when they start their new role later in the year, as they feel that they can now work within their boundaries to avoid any further burnout and reductions in wellbeing.At the time of the conversation, they had participated in four coaching sessions, but will not hesitate to have coaching again in the future as they really enjoy their job, but felt they wanted to have the necessary skills to maintain their wellbeing for the future.

“There have been many times in my life where this would have been so helpful, but now I have it, I will use it, it has made me feel like I have more control”