Are you happy with your GP clinic? These 7 questions will help you reflect

10 July 2019 Helena Murphy

Depositphotos 11887993 L 2015

Did you know that we spend approximately one-third of our lives at work?

This means that most of us spend more time at work than with our friends and family.

At Ensure Health, we believe that being happy at work is too important to ignore…

When was the last time you asked yourself, "how much do I really love my job?"

(Take our quick 90-second happiness health check here.)

It’s important to take the time to consider this, especially when you factor in the worrying mental health statistics in Australia, particularly for GPs.

The 2013 landmark Beyond Blue survey of 12,000 doctors and 1,800 medical students found:

  • Around 21% of doctors said they had been diagnosed or treated for depression
  • Almost 30% of doctors cited a lack of time as a barrier to seeking treatment and support
  • Close to 30% of doctors said maintaining a good work-life balance was their number one stressor
  • Doctors have a substantially higher rate of psychological distress and suicide ideation than other professions and the general public

What follows are seven ‘self-check’ questions to ask yourself and gauge your happiness level at your current GP clinic. Your answers can act as a springboard to self-reflection when you can decide whether you currently have the right clinic fit, or if things might need changing.

1. Does your current clinic offer you flexible working hours?

As identified in the statistics above, a key area GPs struggle with is maintaining a good work-life balance. If you feel this way, the opportunity to have a flexible schedule goes a long way to alleviating stress in balancing home and work.

Imagine being able to have the opportunity to do school runs and errands, or devote adequate time to delving into some research, or simply enjoy time with your family and partner. These things can be achieved, provided you’re working at the right clinic.

2. Are you happy with your current clinic’s work environment?

A recent survey by Pureprofile found over half of the respondents believed being happy at work was more important than their income. In fact, approximately one in two of those said they’d prefer meaningful relationships with colleagues, rather than a pay rise.

This - along with countless other studies - clearly shows how important it is to feel connected to your colleagues and collaborate effectively. For example, you should be able to have the chance to discuss and debrief about particular patient consults. This not only improves patient outcomes but removes the professional isolation that often comes with GP work.

3. Are you happy with the size of your current clinic?

Whether you’d prefer something a little larger, something smaller, or your clinic is just right, the size of your clinic can have a big impact on your workday. It can impact:

  • How much autonomy you have (is it run by a large corporation with all the decision-making power? Does this impact the way you like to practise medicine?)
  • How many patients you can see
  • How much time pressure you face during consults
  • Your ability to develop long-term connections with your patients
  • The chance to practise your speciality
  • Your access to allied health professionals

Ponder all of these points when thinking about whether your current clinic size adequately meets your needs.

4. Are you happy with the level of admin support and the systems in place?

The right administration support and systems can be a lifesaver for a busy GP. A smoothly running clinic gives you more time to focus on patient outcomes, teachings registrars and students or just keeping up with your CPD; all important aspects of being a great GP.

5. Are you happy with the amount of nursing support in your current clinic?

Just as the right admin and systems make your work life easier, so do the right nursing staff. This area, in particular, offers you the most potential for relieving pressures in performing your job. You can find some excellent examples in this article.

6. Are you happy with the length of your commute to and from work? 

An interesting study by German economists, Alois Stutzer and Bruno Frey, found the longer people had to drive to work, the less satisfied they were with life in general. They went on to estimate that a person with a one-hour commute needed to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with their life, as someone who walks to work.

If this sounds like you, it might be time to think about whether a clinic closer to home is the better option. Many GPs say a short commute is one of the biggest advantages of choosing to work rurally, along with giving them the chance to develop a much better work-life balance.

However, there is a flip side to long commute times and the impact they can have, and that’s how you choose to spend it. Many people find it relaxing to use that time to listen to music or podcasts (if that’s you, you might enjoy this article). Using public transport can give you the time to read or just decompress after a long day.

7. If you have a specialty or an area of interest, are you happy with how much you can utilise it in your current clinic?

One of the best things about being a GP is that you’re likely a ‘Jack’ or ‘Jill of all trades’. But you also have the wonderful opportunity to specialise in a particular domain, be it obstetrics and gynaecology mental health, geriatrics, dermatology or a host of others.

Does your current clinic give you the chance to use these specialist skills? If not, looking for a clinic that sees a greater patient population in your speciality area might be something to think about.

Those are seven questions to ponder about whether your current GP clinic is your best fit. We've also put together an assessment to help you dive deeper into these questions, it only takes 90-seconds, take it here.

If answering them has sparked thoughts of a possible clinic move, please get in touch with us at Ensure Health Recruitment. We work with a large network of GP clinics, from small to large to those in-between, and would love to help you find the right one to suit your needs.