General practitioners/physicians diagnose and treat common ailments and disorders such as fever, cold and diarrhoea as well as serious diseases such as malaria, jaundice, dengue and chicken pox.
What do they do?
A sore throat, stomach cramps, a rash, the runs … and where do you rush to? Chances are, to your friendly neighbourhood GP.
A general practitioner (MBBS) or general physician (MBBS and MD in internal medicine) provide medical treatment to millions of patients every day. Being primary healthcare providers, they have a wide base of people to cater to – across all age groups and ailments – for treatment as well as prevention of disease.
General practitioners can either have their private clinics or get employment elsewhere. They work in municipal dispensaries and polyclinics, hospitals, large companies and other big organisations such as universities and schools and also the food industry. Even the president of India has a physician and a deputy physician based at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Some guesthouses and hotels empanel doctors to attend to guests, when needed. Food companies and restaurants are required to screen their staff before employment to rule out various conditions such as tuberculosis and certain stomach ailments, adds Dr Pawan Khanna, a general practitioner with an MBBS plus DMRD (diploma in medical radio diagnosis) and a DCH (diploma in child health) in south Delhi. “Their employees also need to get immunised for typhoid from time to time.”
“The career prospects for a GP are very promising,” says Dr Khanna.
The goodwill the work earns you can send your body’s serotonin (a ‘feel-good’ chemical) levels shooting up. “There is immense job satisfaction in being a general practitioner as one gets to be known to most people in the community and earns a great deal of goodwill,” says Dr Khanna. “One can contribute a great deal for the welfare of society in general by making people aware of the preventive aspects (of healthcare) and leading them to the path of good health.”
While the ubiquitous GP’s profile is the stereotypical good doctor in a small practice with basic medical paraphernalia, there are some ‘unconventional’ GPs, too.
While working on this story, HT Horizons met an internist (MBBS and MD in internal medicine) in an affluent south Delhi colony who consults with families for Rs 700 per consultation, more than that charged by DMs, who are super-specialists. Another one offers his services to a Western food company for medical audits.
This is possible with a basic degree, for, a GP is supposed to be a “general” practitioner. However, these days, some or the other specialisation can give you a leg-up in the market, says Dr NC Majhi, MBBS, a retired general duty medical officer from the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) in Delhi.
According to Dr Majhi, now on a contract in the CGHS, “An MBBS degree is insufficient. What one should have is a postgraduate qualification.”
. Good communication skills
. Patience to deal with all kinds of patients
. Understand basic needs of patients and society
. Ability and willingness to keep updating your knowledge and skills
How do I get there?
. Opt for science (physics, chemistry and biology and/ or English) at the plus-two level
. Do an MBBS programme (four-and-a-half-year) plus compulsory one-year internship and you qualify to be a general practitioner. Or, go for a BAMS or a
. After the MBBS programme, do three years as junior resident in internal medicine to qualify as MD (internal medicine), which makes you a qualified general