Views of UK medical graduates about flexible and part-time working in medicine: a qualitative study.
Evans J., Goldacre MJ., Lambert TW.
OBJECTIVES: To report on the views of doctors about flexible and part-time working in medicine. DESIGN: As part of ongoing studies of doctors' careers, postal questionnaires were sent in 1995 and 1996 to all doctors who qualified from UK medical schools in 1977, 1988 and 1993. Structured questions about recipients' careers were accompanied by a form which invited free-text comment. Comments about flexible and part-time working were extracted for analysis. SUBJECTS: All respondents who commented on flexible and part-time working. RESULTS: Most doctors who commented believed there were insufficient opportunities to meet demand. They also commonly commented that there was not enough information about flexible training opportunities. Some men, as well as women, expressed a wish to work part-time. The most frequently cited reasons for part-time working were to balance career with family responsibilities, and to reduce work-related stress. Cited disadvantages of part-time working were mainly financial and included the problems of paying for childcare and professional subscriptions when on a reduced income. Some respondents perceived negative attitudes towards doctors in part-time jobs. DISCUSSION: It is well-recognised that more flexible medical career structures are needed so that doctors can vary their time commitment according to their needs at particular stages in their lives. Until recently, needs have not been adequately met. Changes in arrangements for flexible training accompanying the implementation of the specialist registrar grade may have begun to alleviate some of the problems, but others, such as negative attitudes towards part-time work, may take time to change.