How Mindset can Influence your Clinic in GP Training

The mind is everything. What you think is what you become. Buddha.

Mindset has the power to determine everything in your life. From how you think to how you react, from how you see others to how you deal with setbacks – your mindset can significantly influence it all – for better or for worse.

As a GP trainee, this is just as relevant. Of course, your mindset can’t influence the patients who come through your door – it can’t influence what you need to treat, the things you will hear or the work that needs doing – but it can influence how you perceive all of these things, and perhaps therefore indirectly affects your daily work.

Why control your mindset before a clinic?

Developing a particular mindset can heavily influence how you feel before, during and after a clinic. Though we’d all love to feel enthused, energetic and positive at the end of each day, it of course won’t always be the case – but what if your mind could manage things a little better? Or better still, what if you could manage your mind a little better?

Things are not getting easier for GPs and GP trainees – more and more challenges are presenting that can drain you as doctors and human beings – anything that can help a little is surely worth trying?

How can you get the right mindset as the first patient enters?

1. Arrive early. Simply arriving 20 minutes before your clinic does wonders for your state of mind. How often have you turned up just before it all kicks off, frantically logging on to three of four applications in one go? How often are you stressed as three patients wait outside before you’ve even called your first one in? Arriving that little bit earlier, not having to worry about time as traffic builds, not having to run in hoping that no-one stops you on your way to your room – all do so much for your mindset. You feel in control of time at the outset – nothing is more powerful, or reassuring.

2. Have a preparation ritual. We are creatures of habit, and habit gives our mind comfort. Having a set routine that guides you into your clinic can help settle your mind no-end. Perhaps clearing your emails, ensuring a cup of your favourite coffee is in front of you, checking your favourite blog or newsfeed? Find the combination of things that works for you and fix it everyday – your mind slowly winds up and expects your clinic to begin, rather than being ‘thrown’ in at random.

3. Plan your morning. Knowing what your morning (or afternoon) will entail before you start always helps your mind prepare for the end. Understand which tasks need doing – scripts, lab results, meetings, phone calls, dictations etc. – beforehand. These tend to ‘pop’ up unexpectedly, either in our minds or in reality, usually adding to the hovering stress cloud above. By knowing (to an extent) what needs doing, and preparing your mind for it in advance (even if the list seems endless), it somehow seems less stressful to your mind. It can see the end point – it seems reachable.

4. Expect the unexpected. Of course things don’t always go to plan. As GPs and GP trainees you train to deal with the unexpected. Be it the acute chest pain that walks in, the sudden collapse in the waiting room or car accident outside the surgery – anything can happen (one of the great positives of the job). Actively expecting the unexpected does wonders for how your mind deals with it. If you start every clinic, prepared for something to catch you off guard, when it happens, it seems easier to deal with. Expect at least one thing to ‘break the norm’ everyday rather than hope it all runs smoothly. And if all does run smoothly? Bonus.

5. Focus on something beyond your clinic. Give your mind something to look forward to afterwards. Meeting with friends, dinner at a new restaurant, time with the children – anything you like. Visualising that image in your mind before you start gives your mind perspective and pulls you to the end. Focusing on something positive motivates your mind through a tough clinic – having a ‘blank’ at the end has the potential to make things drag, especially those long on-calls. Give your mind a ‘hook’, keep hold of it, and your mind will guide you through.

Of course, changing your mindset for the long term is not easy, and it takes much more than these 5 simple suggestions – techniques take time, are varied and are very individual. Exercise, relaxation and meditation are methods often used to give your mind the regular breaks that it deserves.

Your mind is an extremely powerful machine, and your mindset is a very powerful tool. Controlling your mindset, rather than allowing your mindset to control you, is a great way to influence your working life.

As a GP trainee, you may be able to control more than you think.


How we can help you in GP training

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3) Immersion Day Courses: intense day courses focused on learning through exposure, mistakes and confidence-building. MRCGP CSA, MRCGP AKT, GP Stage 3, PLAB 2

4) Online Academy Courses: focused, syllabus-based online courses designed to cover large amounts of key material. 1, 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions to match your needs. MRCGP CSA, MRCGP AKT

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Dr. Aman Arora

Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

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Dr. Aman Arora

About Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

Former GPVTS Programme Director

Former NHS GP Appraiser

Former GMC PLAB 2 Examiner

Fellow of Royal College of GPs (FRCGP)

Former HEEWM Advanced AKT Trainer

Running Exam Prep courses for 10 years

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