Trends in attractiveness of general practice as a career: surveys of views of UK-trained doctors.
Lambert TW., Smith F., Goldacre MJ.
BACKGROUND: It is current UK policy to expand the numbers of newly qualified doctors entering training to become GPs, to meet increased demand. AIM: To report on trends in young doctors' views on the attractiveness of general practice as a career, compared with hospital practice. DESIGN AND SETTING: Questionnaire surveys in the UK. METHOD: Surveys of doctors, 3 years after graduation, conducted in successive year-of-qualification cohorts between 1999 and 2015. RESULTS: The overall response rate from contactable doctors was 55%. In response to the statement 'General practice is more attractive than hospital practice for doctors at present', 59% of doctors agreed in the 1999 survey, 77% in 2005, and only 36% in 2015. One-third of doctors agreed that their exposure to general practice had been insufficient for them to assess it as a career option, but this improved over time: agreement fell from 39% in 1999 to 28% in 2015. As a factor influencing specialty choice, enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the specialty was rated as very important by 65% of intending GPs in 2015, up from 49% in 1999; the corresponding figures for intending hospital doctors were 91% in 2015, up from 61% in 1999. CONCLUSION: Over the 16 years covered by this study, the attractiveness of general practice has fallen relative to hospital practice. This may not necessarily reflect a decline in attractiveness of general practice in absolute terms; rather, it may reflect a greater increase, over time, in the appeal of hospital practice.