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OBJECTIVES: To study the reasons given by junior doctors trained in the United Kingdom for considering leaving UK medicine. DESIGN: Analysis of replies to postal questionnaire surveys. SETTING: United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS: 1326 doctors who qualified in 1999. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Reasons for considering leaving. RESULTS: Of 1047 doctors who indicated that they would stay in medicine but not necessarily in the United Kingdom, 65% (682) gave reasons for leaving that concerned lifestyle, such as a preference for living outside the United Kingdom; 41% (433) gave reasons concerning working conditions in UK medicine; and 18% (184) gave positive work related reasons, such as wanting to work in developing countries. Of 279 doctors considering leaving medicine, 75% (210) cited working conditions, 23% (63) cited lifestyle reasons, and 9% (24) cited positive interests in a different career. Of the 169 doctors who said that they would probably or definitely leave the United Kingdom but remain in medicine, 78% (132) specified lifestyle reasons. Of the 42 who said that they would probably or definitely leave medicine, 67% (28) cited working conditions. CONCLUSIONS: The wish to work abroad, but to stay in medicine, was more common than the wish to leave medicine. The preference for a different lifestyle, particularly to live outside the United Kingdom, is not readily amenable to policy changes to the medical working environment. The smaller numbers of doctors who gave work experience as a reason for considering leaving medicine might be influenced to stay by improvements in working lives.

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Attitude of Health Personnel, Career Choice, Emigration and Immigration, Female, Humans, Job Satisfaction, Life Style, Male, Medical Staff, Hospital, Personnel Turnover, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, Workplace