Looking After You Too Case Study: Senior Salaried GP with a portfolio career

Role and Context

The Salaried GP currently works as a Senior GP with a portfolio career.  They work as a salaried GP for two days a week, and as a Clinical Advisor to their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for one day a week. They qualified as a GP in 1998 and worked as a GP Partner before choosing the salaried role.

Towards the end of 2019 the Senior GP attempted to relocate, securing a job in another part of the country. However, this did not work out, so they returned to their previous area just as we entered the first lockdown. During the Covid pandemic their primary role was supporting the out of hours services, fielding calls for the NHS 111 service and providing support to recovering Covid-19 patients through the Hospital Discharge Service.  On their return, they successfully secured the CCG advisory role and were then able to resecure their old job, as a salaried GP, when it became vacant in the Autumn of 2020.

Challenge of Covid-19 on own wellbeing

The Salaried GP found their new CCG role quite challenging, as it has been virtual since Day One.  They were working independently and expected to act proactively and run with ideas and projects which made them question their abilities and the value they were adding. Additionally, although working as a salaried GP allowed them to manage their working shifts, they sometimes found it challenging to keep within their working hours. The GP finds nature rejuvenating and activities like walking and swimming were important for their wellbeing, however lockdown reduced opportunities for such things.

It was around this time that the Practice Manager sent the GPs in the practice a link to the Looking After You Too coaching service. Having experienced considerable turmoil, with the moves, change of roles and the experience of working through the pandemic, they were feeling unsettled and hoped the coaching service would improve their wellbeing.

“I think it’s very hard, as doctors, to allow yourself to address any weakness.  You tend to just push the overdrive button and just keep going.”

How Looking After You Too coaching helped

The Senior GP had previous experience of coaching and had trained as a coach with a local coaching network so understood that importance of speaking to someone external to the situation.

The coach taught them to practice “accurate thinking”, a technique that enables someone to identify information that is true and relevant in each situation. When they started to experience feelings of self-doubt, the Senior GP would use ‘accurate thinking’ to reflect on their thoughts and behaviours and re-evaluate the relevant facts, allowing them to address the issue more objectively.

The Senior GP also discussed time management with the coach. As they enjoy the interaction and communication with their patients, the Senior GP would sometimes over-run their appointments. With the help of the coach, they successfully prevented this from happening, without compromising patient care. For example, the coach encouraged them to ask their patients to book a separate appointment to discuss multiple needs that could not be addressed in a single consultation. They have been able to successfully implement this and found that most patients are understanding of the change in process.

They have also learnt how to manage patient consultations by informally agreeing an ‘agenda’ with a patient at the start of the discussion to ensure they address all the issues within the time available to them. This is a technique has also successfully been implemented during their routine GP patient consultations.

Impact of the coaching

The Senior GP has previously done some coaching themselves, and so understood coaching techniques and principles. However, they were very impressed by their coach and how they delivered the wellbeing coaching: the experience exceeded their expectations.

“It was a bit like having a spa. It was somebody giving you the space that you normally give other people. It made me feel valued.”

Having now benefited from five sessions, the Senior GP commented that “everyone should have one [a coach].”  They said that GPs do not have supervision in their experience and just “get on with it” and strongly felt that the coaching service filled this gap for doctors and that it was incredibly valuable.

“As Doctors we’re always looking after other people, even in your families … you’re always ‘on call’ and I think to be given that gift of someone that actually looks at you as a person, your needs, what’s getting to you at the moment. We know how to manage it, but we can’t always see it because we’re not in that space, we’re too busy ‘doing’ to look after yourself.”