Jim Galbraith is a good doctor. I know this because I’ve been in his office for all of two minutes and he already knows half my life story. This is a man with a lovely bedside manner who instantly puts you at ease.
Dressed in a smart, button down shirt and tweed jacket, Jim is soft spoken with kind, thoughtful eyes. He’s a good listener, cares about people, and without even realizing it, I’m opening up to him.
I’ve come to Jim’s practice in Glasgow to talk with him about his LAT_56 Messenger Bag, which he’s adopted as his trusted medical bag. It accompanies him day in and day out on all his daily home visits. I’m surprised to learn that doctors still make house calls in this day and age, but Jim insists that such visits are still integral to general practice in Scotland. He also signs up for Out of Hours work, based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, which involves home visits as well.
“I always take my own bag with me for Out of Hours, whether I’m at the general hospital or on home visits. They have an Out of Hours medical bag I could use, but I prefer my own.”
For the last thirty years, Jim has been working as a GP and over those years he’s owned a number of bags. So when Jim tells me what’s important in a medical bag, he’s speaking from some serious experience. He’s been using his LAT_56 messenger bag for three years now (it still looks like new, by the way) and says that it more than meets all the requirements.
First off, a good medical bag has to be robust, able to protect the sensitive medical equipment and medicines its carries. In particular, doctors still carry emergency intravenous medicines that need to be kept safe.
It also has to carry everything. Although Jim explains that doctors carry less kit with them today than in the past, as he opens his bag I realize that he still has to carry a lot with him! With various pockets and sealed compartments, however, Jim discovered that the LAT_56 messenger bag was easy for him to adopt as a medical bag, intuitive to pack, and keeps everything safe and dry.
A good medical bag also has to be easy to carry. “You might have four or five house calls a day,” he explains, “and you don’t want to be lugging around a bulky, awkward bag.” Jim needs to be able to grab his bag, get in the car, and move around people’s homes with smooth efficiency. “There’s always a potential you could bump into something or knock something over.” And if you’re ill at home the last thing you need is a bumbling doctor knocking your things over.
Instead, “this bag I have now is very maneuverable. You can move it back to front very easily. It’s great for the kind of setting we work in.” He also says it carries well and that while he developed shoulder pain from his previous bag because of how it sat on his shoulder, he has been pain free since he switched to LAT_56.
Apart from entering and moving about a patient’s home with smooth efficiency, Jim also points out that a doctor’s look and presentation is crucial. “That was the thing with the old bag: doctor comes in with a tatty bag and you think, ‘Who’s this guy?’ So it’s important to set the standard.”
Patients are more trusting and less guarded with a doctor they perceive as a professional and authoritative figure.
“A professional looking bag is part of your appearance and influences what impression you make on home visits. But it’s more than that, it has a more modern look, which makes you feel better yourself. It makes you feel more confident.”
And as well all know, it’s when you look and feel great that you really excel.
Jim has shown me the contents of his medical bag and offers to take me on a tour of his practice. Little did I know that we were about to go on a sales pitch.
Guiding me into his colleague’s offices, Jim introduces me to the other doctors in his practice and then asks them about their medical bags. I’m surprised to see most reply rather sheepishly and point to older canvas bags that don’t seem as fit for purpose or to exude confidence. With Jim’s robust, EVA foam bag slung over his shoulder, I have to admit that it really does take the cake.
As Jim points out the features of his shiny bag, I keep my mouth shut, allowing him to do the selling. In fact, Jim is such an advocate for his bag that he’s encouraging Kevin Fox, LAT_56’s designer, to pursue a new line of medical bags as a niche market with huge potential. And there might be something to that, for his bag really is ace when stood next to his colleagues’.
“It looks like a piece of armour,” one of his colleagues comments.
“That’s one of our motos,” I tell him, “Looks like a piece of armour, acts like a piece of armour.”
But Jim just nods his head knowingly. After 27 years of practice, Jim finally found the perfect medical bag. “And the rest is history,” he says, “I’ll be using it even after I retire.”