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Catherine Brown
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Hello everyone,
Sorry for the lack of correspondence: please take this as a sign of being happily busy rather than not speaking to you!
Do you know, I am really enjoying psychiatry: a lot more than I thought I would. My consultants are extremely supportive, great teachers and very keen that I am part of the team. I spend a day a week in out-patient clinic - perfect practice for GP! I have had ample opportunity to do case-based discussions and reflect upon my learning.

Last week I managed to attend the Remote Practitioners Association of Scotland annual conference in Inverness, where we had various updates on pre-hospital emergency care, sepsis and cardiology. It also served as an excellent support base for all remote & rural GPs.

Living in Aberdeen has meant that it is slightly easier (and cheaper!) to travel away to other parts of mainland Scotland at the weekend for outdoor pursuits. In the past couple of weekends off, I have been mountain-biking around Loch Ness and hill-walking in Highland Perthshire. Absolutely stunning, especially with the autumn colours and snow on the hills.

Of course, I have had to have my Shetland fix (can't seem to stay away!)  with a friend's wedding, music festival(s) and, well, any excuse to go back!

Later on this week we have our annual Rural GP trainee conference, which is this year being held in Stornoway: we have a number of interesting seminars and workshops, besides providing the opportunity for us to meet one-another in person (not via videolink!).

Hope you enjoy the photos!
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2013-11-12
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Hello everyone,
Sorry for the lack of correspondence: please take this as a sign of being happily busy rather than not speaking to you!
Do you know, I am really enjoying psychiatry: a lot more than I thought I would. My consultants are extremely supportive, great teachers and very keen that I am part of the team. I spend a day a week in out-patient clinic - perfect practice for GP! I have had ample opportunity to do case-based discussions and reflect upon my learning.

Last week I managed to attend the Remote Practitioners Association of Scotland annual conference in Inverness, where we had various updates on pre-hospital emergency care, sepsis and cardiology. It also served as an excellent support base for all remote & rural GPs.

Living in Aberdeen has meant that it is slightly easier (and cheaper!) to travel away to other parts of mainland Scotland at the weekend for outdoor pursuits. In the past couple of weekends off, I have been mountain-biking around Loch Ness and hill-walking in Highland Perthshire. Absolutely stunning, especially with the autumn colours and snow on the hills.

Of course, I have had to have my Shetland fix (can't seem to stay away!)  with a friend's wedding, music festival(s) and, well, any excuse to go back!

Later on this week we have our annual Rural GP trainee conference, which is this year being held in Stornoway: we have a number of interesting seminars and workshops, besides providing the opportunity for us to meet one-another in person (not via videolink!).

Hope you enjoy the photos!
PhotoPhotoPhoto
2013-11-12
3 Photos - View album
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Why Rural GP, and Why Shetland?

It was with much excitement that I took up my post in Rural Track GP training here in Shetland in August 2012. I had not long returned from New Zealand where I had been living and working for the past eighteen months. Whilst I was there, I heard about the Rural Track programme, and had thought ‘perfect’!

Whilst going through various flirtations considering different specialties as a medical student and junior doctor, it was General Practice that had always been what I considered would be the best career for me. I enjoy a variety of work, getting to know patients, and relish being part of a community.  Working, and indeed training, in a rural environment provides unique opportunities to get involved in pre-hospital emergency care and provides an even broader width of experience.

As a GP ST1, I am currently doing my hospital posts in the Gilbert Bain Hospital, Lerwick. The last six months have been spent working on the medical ward (22-bedded unit). In terms of medical staffing, there is one FY1, five SHOs (ranging from FY2/ GP ST1/ CT1-2) and three full-time Consultants. Whilst in this post, I worked between the ward, clinics, medical admissions (seen through our A&E Department) and worked night shifts, covering medicine and surgery (in other words – everything!). I am now based on the surgical ward, following much the same format between wards/ clinics/ admissions/ A&E, with the obvious addition of seeing trauma/minor injuries on a more regular basis, and assisting in theatre. We have three full-time Consultant Surgeons, and three full-time Consultant Anaesthetists.  There are four SHOs on the surgical rota, and one Staff Grade who is extremely experienced. As there are no registrars in training here in Shetland, I have a unique opportunity to get involved as much as possible in whatever we want to do. This includes learning airway skills from the Anaesthetists, practicing suturing in A&E and Theatre, and reducing joints/ fracture dislocations.

Each six months, I spend three days in my GP Practice, seeing patients and discussing with my GP Trainer (who is also my Educational Supervisor). Whilst I am in my hospital posts, this provides a valuable link with the community, and helps me to remember that I am a GP trainee!

Shetland consists of one hundred islands with a population of 22000 people. The landscape, and indeed seascapes, here are beautiful: Massive sea cliffs dropping straight into the sea; hillside; moorland with heather. The main town, Lerwick, is situated on Mainland and has a population of approximately 7500. Shetland was part of Norway until the 15th century, when she was handed over to Scotland as a dowry to enable the Danish Crown Prince to marry Princess Margaret. Therefore, the language here was initially an ancient form of Norse, with the latter additions of Scots and English fusing with this to create the Shetland Dialect which many locals still speak.

Public services here are incredible: excellent sports amenities, pot-hole free roads, good local bus service. There are daily ferries heading to Aberdeen (with regular service to Orkney) and Sumburgh Airport (40-minute drive south of Lerwick) provides good links with Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow. There are also direct flights over the summer to Bergen, Norway.

If you are in any way interested in traditional music, then look no further! – Shetland is known worldwide for its rich culture of traditional music. As a fiddle player, I could not wish to be in a better place to improve my playing!

Other activities which I have been involved in are traditional dancing and the triathlon club which is very active here. Sea-kayaking, coasteering, sailing, rowing traditional yoals and fishing are just some of the other activities on offer here, besides excellent coastal walking. There are many exquisite beaches here, with crystal-clear water. For wildlife lovers, I have a colony of grey and common seals who reside right outside my house. I can watch gannets diving in the bay, and puffins in the summer months also. The orcas also come to visit us here. See BBC wildlife presenter Simon King’s Shetland Diaries for a better insight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qnw3b/episodes/guide

The community here, I think it is fair to say, is the most active one I have ever lived in. There is a real sense of people looking after each other, and of true community spirit. One of the best examples of this is the weekly Sunday afternoon teas which are held in many of the village halls, which raise money for various charitable causes – local, national and international. As an island community, Shetland and Shetlanders could not be more welcoming, and are very keen to involve newcomers in island activities.

Drawbacks? – I’m struggling to think of any. The winter is long, but this is not a bad thing: you have the opportunity to see the beautiful mirrie dancers (aurora borealis) and there are several fire festivals to keep you warm! Alongside some beautiful crisp wintry weather, and some pretty impressive gales...

If you are reading this and sat there wondering “is Shetland for me?”, then I would ask yourself the following:

1. Do I enjoy living in a rural area and, indeed, an island?
2. Would I enjoy participating in community life?
3. Do I like the idea of having a little more responsibility at work, and working directly with Consultants?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to all of the above, then you sound like a good
candidate!

I am more than happy to be contacted (details below) if anyone is interested and would like to discuss further.

Good luck with the decision-making!

Catherine


Dr Catherine Brown
GP ST1
Shetland
catherine.brown17@nhs.net
07592946849
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