Over the years, numerous medical professionals (both medical students and physicians, including GPs) have asked me what a portfolio career is.
My career is constantly evolving, which I’m proud of. At the moment I am mainly working as an on-site GP and as the head of the MSc program and senior clinical lecturer. I also write for GPonline occasionally and I am currently writing a book on portfolio careers – I am currently looking for GPs to interview about their careers and people to write sections, you can sign up here if you would like to get involved .
In addition, I speak at various events and support medical professionals in their careers through Medschool Xtra (a medical education platform) and run a YouTube channel.
In the past I have been registered as an examiner on the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) with the GMC, appointed as a principal and principal in an academy and comprehensive school respectively. I also started a medical careers organization called DreamSmartTutors.
What is a portfolio career?
My career is a good example of a portfolio career. In short, a portfolio career is a combination of different (or related) careers. There could also be different types of work, e.g. B. Being freelance for all or part of your work, or being employed by one, two or more companies.
As a family doctor, there are many ways to create a portfolio career – for example, working two days a week as a staff doctor, with the reminder of the week writing or teaching medical communications as a freelancer.
A portfolio career is more common in general medicine simply because it is much easier to make than in hospital medicine. GPs can work less than full-time and still earn a reasonably good salary, possibly supplemented with other work in their portfolio careers. However, there are hospital doctors who also have portfolio careers.
Why should you consider a portfolio career now?
Portfolio careers are becoming increasingly popular in general practice. The number of fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs is declining and we are not on track to meet the government’s pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs by 2024.
A growing number of GPs are taking early retirement, leaving the profession altogether, or leaving their employee or partner roles to work as a proxy. Due to the resulting additional pressure in the GP practice, more and more GPs are choosing to reduce their working hours and work part-time or do some of their work from home. Portfolio careers allow primary care physicians to earn extra income and spend time doing other things they enjoy.
Portfolio careers allow physicians to have more professional autonomy, pursue their interests, and develop new skills. With the increase in remote work since the pandemic, a portfolio career can also allow you to do some of your work from home if it suits your current circumstances.
Developing a broad range of skills will only set you apart in and outside of a clinical career if you wish to pursue non-clinical roles as part of your portfolio career.
All of this not only benefits you as an individual, but also the NHS and our patients. Retreating briefly from clinical medicine allows me to return to clinical practice refreshed; I was able to nurture my creative side, which in turn helped nurture my clinical side.
Physicians may also see financial benefits that could encourage them to remain in salaried positions rather than become GPs, which in turn could help ensure continuity of care for patients and benefit practices as well.
How can you build a portfolio career?
You need to know “you” to create a portfolio career. You have to know what you are interested in and decide whether (and if possible) you want to make a career out of it.
Making a list of your skills and qualities is a good place to start. List some careers you would like to get into. For me, I knew I could write well and I enjoyed it. I found it therapeutic and wanted to write more, so I started submitting more and more articles during my post-Foundation year of training.
One editor’s advice was to ‘keep writing’ and I did, which led to more articles, writing for GPonline and now writing a book.
So it pays to think about what you’re good at, what you can realistically improve on, and how you might be able to take it a step further.
- dr Patrice Baptiste is a General Practitioner based in London