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OBJECTIVES: To report the self-assessed views of a cohort of medical graduates about the impact of having (or wanting to have) children on their specialty choice and the extent to which their employer was supportive of doctors with children. SETTING: United Kingdom (UK). PARTICIPANTS: UK medical graduates of 2002 surveyed by post and email in 2014. RESULTS: The response rate was 64.2% (2057/3205). Most respondents were living with a spouse or partner (86%) and, of these, 49% had a medical spouse. Having children, or wanting to have children, had influenced specialty choice for 47% of respondents; for 56% of doctors with children and 29% of doctors without children; for 59% of women and 28% of men; and for 78% of general practitioners compared with 27% of hospital doctors and 18% of surgeons. 42% of respondents regarded the National Health Service as a family-friendly employer, and 64% regarded their specialty as family-friendly. More general practitioners (78%) than doctors in hospital specialties (56%) regarded their specialty as family-friendly, while only 32% of surgeons did so.Of those who had taken maternity/paternity/adoption leave, 49% rated the level of support they had received in doing so as excellent/good, 32% said it was acceptable and 18% said the support had been poor/very poor. CONCLUSIONS: Having children is a major influence when considering specialty choice for many doctors, especially women and general practitioners. Surgeons are least influenced in their career choice by the prospect of parenthood. Almost half of doctors in hospital specialties regard their specialty as family-friendly.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





Physicians, family relations, junior, medical, quality of life, workforce, Adult, Attitude of Health Personnel, Career Choice, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Medicine, Multivariate Analysis, Parents, Physicians, Return to Work, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom