Nature of Work

General Practice

Dr. Mark Murphy, General Practitioner

I left UCD in 2005, enthusiastic, but completely uncertain of my career direction. After an intern year in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, I moved to New Zealand for a year to snowboard, surf and work as a house officer in Neurology and Psychiatry. Whilst working there, I also became interested in research as it added variety to the working week and also as it provided the evidence that can change clinical practice. I wanted to finish my Basic Medical Training, so back I came to the Mater medical scheme as a SHO. I had a great time there, with two rotations outside of Dublin – one to Waterford and another to Wexford. I gained a lot of confidence as a doctor over these years, which is very important.

Then my career pathway finally came together. I was interested in everything! I got bored working in the same type of clinic, with the same type of illness over and over, telling patients to go to their GP whenever they brought up other non-specialist complaints. I found the hospital-centric model of care laden with expensive investigations and treatments, which often provided little benefit. I was frustrated when we avoided the most important factors for a patient- like a psychosocial issue in a patient with poorly controlled diabetes. I wanted a more holistic career where I practiced everything and where my specialism was general. That the entire health policy of every nation is now shifting to primary care was an added benefit. So GP it was and I’ve never looked back.

I trained for four years on the Sligo Specialist Training Scheme in General Practice from 2009- 2013. It allowed me to live in one location for four years. Sligo is beautiful and it was probably the best four years of my life. The GP Registrar jobs gave me a fantastic opportunity to work in Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal. Sligo is just one of 14 training sites in the country however and GP training in Ireland is recognised internationally as superb.

Currently I work part-time as a GP and part-time as a Lecturer in General Practice and as a researcher on a HRB-funded PhD programme called SPHeRE.

I work as a GP in South Dublin and do some out of hour’s shifts occasionally in the evenings. A typical day in general practice is busy, but very interesting and the time flies by. I am never bored. Ever. I don’t know what pathology or complaint I’ll see next – from paediatrics, to minor surgery, to a chronic illness, to a mental health condition, to a musculoskeletal injury- the day is very varied. General Practice is one of the most sociable medical specialties – working with GP colleagues and practice nurses in our surgeries and the many multidisciplinary team members such as public health nurses and pharmacists – we also talk with 30-odd patients a day! GPs are small businesses, so some of the day is involved with management and administration, which must be fitted around the clinical work.

The other half of the week I do some research and teaching- I am performing a PhD in general practice on variation of diabetes care in Ireland. I also teach undergraduate GP students in RCSI. The academic and clinical work are complimentary and keep things fresh. Academic general practice, having a portion of the working week being involved in an academic activity, is very common with many colleagues being involved with teaching undergraduates or postgraduates, research activity or other policy work.

In summary, General Practice is a super job, which involves an excellent, structured training programme and great career prospects.

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