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Combining parenthood with a medical career: Questionnaire survey of the UK medical graduates of 2002 covering some influences and experiences

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fay SmithORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© 2017 Article author(s). All rights reserved. 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lambert TW, Smith F, Goldacre MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2017

Volume: 7

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 23/08/2017

Acceptance date: 03/07/2017

Date deposited: 28/05/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016822

PubMed id: 28838899


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