Aarthi Sriram GP conference
The UK shortage of general practitioners (GPs) has long been a headline issue, with ideas sought to boost recruitment and retention.
Now a medical student from the University of Plymouth has led an event to promote the career to his peers across the South West, highlighting the opportunities it can bring.
Aarthikeshavan Sriram, who is in his fourth year studying in the University’s Peninsula Medical School, ran the GP conference at the University’s city centre campus.  
Supported by the University of Bristol and the Royal College of GPs, the event was open to medical students from Plymouth, Bristol and the University of Exeter, and welcomed GP speakers to talk about their career progression.
The idea was born out of Aarthikeshavan’s placement at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, when he found out that, despite their role being ‘general’, GPs could in fact specialise. Dr Jon Upton, who specialises in dermatology, was key in his discovery, and got Aarthikeshavan thinking about what else within the profession was unknown or misconstrued.
Welcoming more than 200 students from across the region, the event heard from GPs at various career stages, including a trainee, academic and clinical fellow. 
Aarthi Sriram
Aarthikeshavan Sriram

Going on a variety of different placements is really valuable, and I thought I knew what to expect going to work alongside a GP. But hearing from Jon about being able to specialise in dermatology, and the fact he knew others who had also specialised in topics such as sports medicine and women’s health, got me thinking that there must be many other things I didn’t know.

So, as part of Plymouth’s Students’ Union GP Society, I thought ‘What would I want to know about becoming a GP?’ and approached some academics to scope out running an event for our students. It was only when I met students from GP societies in Bristol and Exeter that I thought we could co-run and roll it out to all three universities, and really help to give people an informed view. 

GP gets a lot of attention in the media, so it was great to hear from people actually doing the job on what it’s like and why it’s a great career.

I’m strongly considering becoming a GP myself, and it would be great to arm others with the right information to consider it too. It’s been hard work putting the conference together, but ultimately really rewarding and I hope students feel empowered. 
Aarthikeshavan Sriram, fourth-year medical student 
Student GP conference Aarthi Sriram
Student GP conference Aarthi Sriram
Student GP conference Aarthi Sriram
Student GP conference Aarthi Sriram

I am delighted that medical students are being offered the opportunity to explore careers in general practice at an early stage.

This was not available when I was training. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to prepare for their futures and to contribute to the discussions about the future of general practice.
Dr Jon Upton, University clinical lead for dermatology 

It’s vital for students to experience a host of different settings while on placement, and we place huge value on primary care and general practice here at the University of Plymouth.

The nationwide GP shortage is a huge issue, and I’m really proud to see Aarthikeshavan not only learn more about the GP profession, but help to share that knowledge to educate and encourage his peers. 

Laura Bowater MBELaura Bowater MBE
Head of Peninsula Medical School

Faculty of Health

Exceptional clinical and academic learning, social engagement and research in medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and health professions.
Female doctor GP talking to an old man