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You have battled through your hospital placements and have reached the promised land of primary care. You are now supernumerary and can take the Christmas period off – so why read a blog on how to survive Christmas?
Well, not everybody will take the whole period off and after you qualify as a GP you will probably need to go to work. Christmas is actually an interesting time to be working, with unique challenges for this time of the year.
For many people, Christmas is a time for coming together as a family and seeing loved ones who you may not have seen for a long time. This leads to an increase in the number of elderly patients brought in by worried relatives due to a decline in their health, resulting in difficult consultations with only 10 minutes to assess long-term decline.
Some patients will suffer greatly during this time as they are alone or find the influx of family and friends too much to deal with, causing a strain on their mental health.
Another unique challenge at Christmas is how to manage your patients. Anything presenting to hospital can present to you first, along with the normal GP presentations and winter issues such as flu but, during the holidays you might find the support normally available is missing.
These are the problems but how do you survive over the festive period? Well, the first thing to say is that you must still ensure you get your educational sessions as normal despite the changes to your usual surgery. You need to use your supervisor to ask questions about the the social services available in your area. Most importantly, you need to be aware that you will almost certainly be running late all the time.
You are a trusted and important person in the community and your compassion, listening skills and advice are always appreciated but more so at Christmas. Patients will rely upon you to keep them out of hospital and families can be very supportive to facilitate this.
There will be a lot of chocolate around and everyone in the practice will generally be happy at this time of year so be positive, enjoy the work and make sure you appreciate the fact you will definitely get Christmas day off!
Sandesh Gulhane is the co-chair of the BMA GP trainees subcommittee
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