What are my options for a portfolio career?

Published on: 19 Dec 2014


Many GPs are looking for a release from the daily stress at their practice. Here are some ideas that other GPs have made a success of.

The search for the right work-life balance and a chance regularly to step away from the stress of day-to-day practice is prompting many GPs to seek alternative career paths that work in tandem with general practice. Training and teaching have always been popular strands, but there are other, more imaginative, career routes that you could pursue. Pulse spoke to eight portfolio GPs and asked them for their tips on how to break out of full-time general practice. Here are their replies.


TV doctor: Dr Ellie Canon

Medicine is a bubble and in the outside world there isn’t always a set career path. You have to be flexible and humble. I think that the media suits people who are more comfortable talking to patients than other doctors.

Most media GPs have had some sort of serendipitous start, so it is hard to say ‘this is how to do it’. Launching a blog is a good start. There are now so many online media outlets that offering articles or comments on medicine will eventually bear fruit.

There’s as much or as little commitment as you want. I have a weekly slot on Sky News Sunrise and am the resident GP for theMail on Sunday, MailOnline and Woman Magazine, but I have worked four GP sessions for the past seven years since having children and my media work has never affected that.


The best thing about it?

The variety. I love my clinic but it is very draining now with the ever-increasing workload. My media work is a welcome break and I feel I offer evidence-based health education to a wide audience.


The worst thing?

Criticism from GPs who have an inverted snobbery towards media GPs, assuming we have conflicts of interest.


Potential earnings?

Columns and TV appearances can earn you anything from £50 upwards each. However a lot of media work is unpaid.


Dr Ellie Canon is a GP in north London, with a varied media career.



Dr Coope - online


Life coach: Dr Sarah Coope

I started coaching doctors on all aspects of their life, from career decisions to work-home balance and stress management, after undertaking a coaching diploma and completing a neurolinguistic programming (NLP)practitioner course in 2007.

I am now a trainer and facilitator for a number of companies that deliver a range of communication skills workshops for doctors. The work is variable; for example, I recently ran an evening meeting for diabetes nurses on motivational interviewing and another on interview skills for GP registrars.

To get started, you need to find out what you really enjoy doing and then build up connections and experience in order to start attracting regular work. Often, one thing leads to another. If there is an area you are drawn to, then explore what courses would be valuable for you.


The best thing about it?

Doing something I really love. I can see when someone has gained something valuable from my coaching and it has made a difference to them.


The worst thing about it?

Spending considerable time on booking work and following things up is a minor irritation rather than a huge negative.


Potential earnings?

It varies from company to company. It is paid on a clinical lecturer pay scale, so similar to salaried GP pay.


Dr Sarah Coope is a locum GP in East Yorkshire, facilitator for Open Mind Education, appraiser, medical school tutor and a medical member of a tribunals service.


To read other GPs opinions, please click here.

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