We do occasional save lives in a dramatic way: like giving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, recognising meningitis or treating a patient having a heart attack and that is very rewarding. However most of the time we encourage patients to make small changes like losing weight, stopping smoking, reducing their blood pressure or cholesterol – all things that can also save lives but aren’t as easy to measure. Talking to patients about how they can improve their health is very satisfying too and I thrilled when one of my patients who used to smoke very heavily came to tell me she has finally stopped smoking.
Dramatic life saving moments are infrequent in GP land but it’s great to know you recognised the symptoms of an embolism and referred a patient to hospital for treatment that night. What’s even better is when they come back in a month like a different person who feels well and you notice the change in them. That’s very rewarding.