Thursday 29th January 2015

Newsmakers: Doctors ordered

GP's jobs made to look 'less boring' by this recruitment video

Bad news for anyone thinking of being a tad ill sometime soon: there aren’t enough GPs to go round, and the problem doesn’t look like its going away. As a partial solution to the might-soon-be-a-crisis, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has launched a recruitment video, thus:

It’s not meant to recruit GPs from scratch. It’s intended to convince medical students that GP-ing should be their preferred speciality, rather than other career paths such as surgery, pathology or lolling on a sofa chatting to Philip and Holly.

Research by the RCGP shows that up to 10,000 family doctors are now aged 55 and over, so will be hitting retirement age in the next few years. But last year only 1,527 of the 7,341 doctors who completed foundation training chose to work in general practice.

The bottom line seems to be that medical students think being a GP is boring. Dr Maureen Baker, the Chair of the RCGP, said:

We hope that our video will challenge the media perception that general practice is less exciting and stimulating than secondary care. Reality programmes and dramas set in hospitals are always fast-paced and thrilling while programmes about being a GP are very few and far between, and mostly reinforce out-dated stereotypes about GPs handing out cough medicine and referring the more difficult cases to consultants. This video – and the GPs who appear in it – show that nothing could be further from the truth. Being a GP is exciting, varied and challenging…

So, is the video dynamic and perception-overturning? Well, not so much.

It’s basically a number of small vignettes featuring GPs who are talking about the reasons they love the job (proximity to patients, ‘holistic’ care, family-friendly hours, etc.). The GPs all ‘overlap’ by meeting each other in various locations, often shaking hands as they pass. At times you feel like you could be watching a video on how easily norovirus spreads.

There are also a number of ‘patients’ on screen. These are clearly not real patients. Young and good-looking, they surely either work for the agency or the film production company. But the fact that the ‘patients’ look like they’ve never even passed a kidney stone between them doesn’t really matter. No – the real problem is that the environment just looks dull, dull, dull.

When Tomas Alfredson shot his re-make of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 2011 he chose a brown colour palette that successfully evoked the flatness and drear of seventies London. This video accidentally does pretty much the same thing. The locations – actual places where actual GPs actually work, it seems – appear mismatched and underfunded. (And yes, that’s probably because they are.) They certainly don’t look like environments in which you’d like to spend the majority of your adult life.

The best proposition in the video is the variety of career options available with the GP field. One GP points out how a career could take you to a cruise ship, a military camp, prison or a remote Scottish island. Perfect if you’re a medical student with a passion for Jane McDonald, The Great Escape, Ronnie Barker or Balamory.

All in all, it’s an interesting effort, and we wish it all the best. But sometimes you’ve got to wonder if some pieces of recruitment marketing just need a bigger dash of showmanship or glamour – even if that means that the authenticity of the piece isn’t quite what the alarmists say it should be.

About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.