Real Talk: Stigma on General Practitioners

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28 Jun 2016 - General

Hi, I am a recent medical graduate. I am still deciding as to whether I should pursue a specialty program or be a general practitioner.

When I was still on my clerkship and medical school, I was torn with what specialty to choose. Now that I have graduated, I am torn as to whether I should pursue a residency program or practice as a general physician. In our country, Philippines, most degree holders pursue a specialty for the following reasons: one, somehow it has been a no- brainer to be a specialist. Most degree holders ramble and decide as to which specialty they should be in. There is a thinking for some that having a specialization is not an option. To be perfectly honest, the doctors that I know and  I am surrounded with, falls in this category.

 Second, there is a stigma that general practitioners are not given much importance, compared to specialists, since they didn't achieve a higher course of learning. In Somehow, some people think that GPs are just General Practitioners. 

But the question remains, aren't we all-- specialists or not, general physicians at one point in our lives?

For one reason, I do consider to be a general practitioner because I know there are a lot of sick people who needs a general physician. In our country, not everyone has an access to a tertiary hospital or a provincial hospital. But at least they have a doctor accessible in their community. Second, the ratio of GPs to specialists is not balanced. Specialists outnumbers the GPs. Which is an advantage for GPs. Third, our names is our brand. At a young age, I want to start out a career and establish a name. My goal is to be a name in the community while doctors my age who had just finished residency was just starting out. Time is gold too, we're not getting any younger.


I want to know what our fellow healthcare workers think about this issue. Share your thoughts, does this kind of stigma happen in your community too? For the general practitioners, what made you stay in the field or are you planning on taking up a specialty? Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

I am a GP with MRCS, post graduate diplomas in family medicine, occupational medicine, dermatology. I have an unrecognized post graduate diploma in Aesthetic Medicine and I am certified by my medical council to practice botox, fillers, ablative, non ablative lasers, chemical peels etc. It is obvious from my qualification that I am lost. I feel a young doctor should decide earlier what he wants to do. Once you have decided what you want to do, just go straight for it and strive hard. Once you are...
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Oh sorry yes I stand corrected. GPs do earn quite an amount but usually in provinces. If you live in the city people tend to look for specialists. Our system of referral needs to be fixed. The public should visit a GP or primary care physician first and then go to the specialist. Though yes sadly patients, as well as our colleagues, look down on GPs. Very disheartening. I am sure you have heard this phrase quite often "GP lang yan" (he/she is just a GP). Just really shouldn't be an...
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Dr. Winter, glad to have someone share the same sentiments with me. And let's be honest, some specialists in our country do look down on GPs too. And even patients. Which is disheartening because we had our share of hardships before earning the degree too. As for the earnings of a GP, I do have known some GPs who earns a lot because of the high demand of general practitioners in their areas. But their names and careers are already established which is why patients do line up for them even a...
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Dr. Cadiz I know exactly what you mean. It is also a stigma to the general public for us here in the Philippines to not be specialized. When people ask me what I am I would answer "I am a doctor." Of course you get that glimmer of wow in their eyes. Then comes the follow-up question, "what is your specialty?" and I answer "General Practice/GP" then the wow factor diminishes. Here in our country apparently being a GP is not enough which is extremely sad. Most are una...
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There is a stigma on Gps in Malaysia too, this is likely because most of our GPs are junior doctors doing locum jobs or are not specialized. I believe all specialty in medicine are important. In an ideal setting, good GPs are essential to public health. Well-trained GPs can help reduce the disease burden in the tertiary setting. It really depends on the field you're interested in. If you have a broad interest in different fields of medicine, don't mind being a 'jack of all trade'...
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For the record, I am an established specialist, but I agree with the sentiment expressed. In India too, the number of GPS is diminishing. As medical graduates, we are mentally geared and trained to excel in academics and going for speciality and superspeciality courses is the only way to do that. The number of specialists in cities far outweighs the number of GPS, whereas in rural areas it is vice versa. There are also practitioners of alternative medicine streams in India, who mostly become GPS...
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