Advice for qualified GPs

Life as a Rural GP

The range of options in general practice can be quite bamboozling.  You will probably consider the pros and cons of each.  Salaried, locum or partnership?  Rural, urban or in between?  Part time or full time?  Big practice or small practice?  Such is the attraction of general practice that you can work in a huge variety of settings.

Variety is the spice of rural practice

Rural practice is one area however that continues to attract newly qualified GPs for a whole range of reasons.  Others are experienced GPs in other settings, and are attracted to the lifestyle and professional stimulation to be found in rural practice.  Some are interested in the ability to combine elements of work in hospital, as running a community hospital is a core part of some rural jobs.  Others like the easy access to the outdoors:  mountain bike tracks, sailing centres, lochs to canoe or hills to climb.  Others might find it easier to practise the “continuity of care” that attracted them to GP in the first place; in general rural and remote practice has less in the way of GP co-operatives, and the smaller list sizes (not necessarily with a reduction in workload) means that getting to know your patients is not only easier, but more important.

It’s not for everyone.  There are many disadvantages to working in a rural/remote setting, but these are often outweighed by the powerful attractions – not least the lack of rush hour traffic! The BMJ Career Focus article Remote and Rural General Practice by John Gillies covers many of the pros and cons very well.  Or watch this video featuring some of the work of Shetland GP Susan Bowie.

What next?

So how do you take the next steps to a career in rural practice?

  1. Explore the website – we would say that!  However there’s a huge amount of information, videos, links and reflective articles about rural practice on this website, so you might want to just take some time to explore that.
  2. Find out what’s available in your local area.  Think about contacting your deanery,  RCGP Faculty or ask around to find out if there are people you can speak to or visit easily.  You can contact RuralGP for assistance with this if you’re stuck.
  3. Take a look at the latest vacancies advertised on
  4. Think about the opportunities after training, particularly the NHS Education for Scotland Rural Fellowships, which are advertised around January each year including on
  5. Take a look at the NHS Scotland jobs website for potential locum, salaried and partnership opportunities.
  6. Consider whether you’re looking for a career break, a sabbatical – or perhaps just a friendly chat over the phone or a coffee.  There are currently lots of opportunities in Scottish rural practice and many rural GPs are happy to give their advice on what you might want to consider.
  7. Consider joining the Rural GP Association of Scotland – and/or coming along to the annual conference held in Inverness each November.
The GP Returner Scheme

The Scotland GP Returner Scheme has a good reputation for supporting former GPs back into practice.  NHS Education for Scotland has a helpful page with more information about what’s involved… you can find it here.

The GP Enhanced Induction Scheme

This is for GPs who have qualified outside the UK, who have no NHS experience and who wish to apply for GP work in the UK.  Again, NHS Education for Scotland has a useful page to summarise your options… read it here.