Why I decided to become... a portfolio GP

Dr Radhika Vohra explains how she added variety to her career as a GP after developing an interest in women's health.

How did you first get into medicine?

My mum was unwell when I was seven and I remember watching her and those looking after her and thinking how incredible the whole interaction was. At that point, I remember saying to my mum that I wanted to be a doctor.

Before qualifying as a doctor, I enjoyed actively learning and discovering what interests me the most as part of my journey into medicine. Reading about powerful women in medicine such as Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson also inspired me. It's a privilege to be able to interact with colleagues and patients every day.

What inspired you to pursue general practice and a portfolio career?

During a hospital rotation in A&E I realised I didn't want to pursue hospital medicine. I wanted to appreciate a patient's entire journey - that's what appealed to me most about general practice and primary care, the continuity of patient care and looking after families.

I went on to do a GP rotation in the Midlands where I did a GP placement first and then hospital rotations, which helped confirm this was the right career path for me. General practice has gone through many changes since I qualified - but it remains the first point of contact for many patients and pivotal to healthcare.

When I became a GP partner, I found I craved variety, so to avoid burning out I started pursuing other interests. I'd always been interested in education so I followed that path to become a clinical supervisor and speaker. During this time, I also became passionate about educating patients about reproductive and sexual health and gained qualifications to become a coil and implant fitter.

I cherished the variety these different roles brought to my working week, and over time, this evolved into more public education and voluntary work with the launch of The Menopause Charity - helping women who are struggling during perimenopause and menopause.

Why the interest in women's health and menopause care?

Women form 51% of our population and tend to visit their GP more than men during their reproductive years, so women's healthcare makes up a large chunk of general practice work in general. I was particularly interested in this as I could see that we weren't offering women the care and education they needed, and this was leading to disparities and inequalities in healthcare.

Due to the pressures in secondary care, we're also seeing more and more work fall on the shoulders of primary care health professionals. I've worked in community contraceptive clinics for more than 10 years, and my working week is now divided into approximate thirds: some NHS work, including education and appraisals; private general practice during which I'll see menopause cases, and voluntary work in public education and as a trustee of The Menopause Charity.

This is a wonderful opportunity that not many vocations allow, so my working life is always exciting as no week is ever the same!

What additional skills have you learned as a result of expanding your usual GP work?

It's taught me a huge amount about integrity, teamwork, leadership and prioritisation. The challenge of having multiple roles is trying to give your best to each role. There can be times where it can be overwhelming because there are so many plates to spin, but I feel fortunate that I thrive on meeting people and working within a team, so the variety of each new week brings an element of excitement.

What advice would you give to students considering becoming a portfolio career GP?

Being a doctor is challenging, but it's also full of potential and a privilege. My advice to anyone considering a portfolio career is to interact with as many people as possible and learn from inspiring individuals around you. Stay curious about what interests you, and as you gain experience and exposure you'll be able to define what it is you want to do.

When my career started I said 'yes' to too many things, but over time I've been able to push back when I need to and become more selective. As a portfolio GP, it's important to try things, see them through, but also keep some things consistent, so you always have a steady base to return to if you wish.

This page was correct at publication on 08/03/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

Dr Radhika Vohra

by Dr Radhika Vohra MBChB BMedSci DCH MRCGP(2006) DFRSH & FRT

Radhika qualified from the University of Birmingham Medical School and works as an NHS and private GP in Surrey. Whilst enjoying all challenges of primary care, her interests are women’s health, menopause and education. Currently, she is a GP, FSRH registered trainer, speaker, NHS appraiser and medical trustee of The Menopause Charity. Radhika believes understanding the medical and social challenges women face is crucial to providing quality support and care.